(Bloomberg) -- Steak haché is not a burger, the purists will tell you. Any resemblance between minced beef molded into a patty in France and that American favorite served in a bun is entirely coincidental. Discuss.
As debates go, that’s about as promising as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Eating should be about pleasure and enjoyment and so long as you are a meat eater, steak haché can taste great, however you classify it.
Just ask the three-Michelin-star French chef Pierre Koffmann, who grew up loving steak haché in the 1950s at his family home in Tarbes—in the Gascony province of southwest France—long before he ever tried burgers.
“We used to have them every Monday, but they were made with horse meat,” he says. “Only the horse-meat butcher was open on Mondays and my mother would make them. We loved them. Kids love steak haché and, of course, they are cheaper than steaks.
“She’d serve them with salad. In France, there was only one dressing at that time—mustard, oil, salt and vinegar. We had salad with every meal. But you can have them with French fries and they are really good with mashed potato.”
Here, London-based Koffmann shares his recipe. He is very relaxed about the amount of fat in the mince, where British chefs tend to consider 20% the minimum. And he also says it is fine to add mustard or other ingredients into the mix, though he did demur when I mentioned curry powder. I suggested eating the patty between leaves of iceberg lettuce, also not normal practice in Gascony.
The basic recipe is simple, though I did struggle with cooking times, alternately ending up with raw and well-done meat. The times below are the ones decreed by Koffmann after he tested his own recipe for Bloomberg. One tip: Resist the temptation to slide the steak around the pan. If you leave it in the same place, it develops a better crust.
Ingredients (for two burgers):300 grams (11 ounces) of minced meatOne medium onion finely chopped20 grams of butterOne clove of garlicTwo egg yolksSalt and pepper
- Gently fry the onion in butter until golden, about 12 minutes.
- Add finely chopped garlic to the onions for last three minutes.
- Put on a plate to cool.
- Beat the egg yolks then mix in with the mince, along with the (cooled) onions, salt and pepper.
- Make into two patties. (Purists will say they should be oval, rather than round.) Warm a little oil in a frying pan.
- Fry them on high heat for two minutes, then reduce to medium for another two; flip and fry (at medium) for two more minutes.
Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.
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