A FEW burgers in the freezer means we can create a feast in a few minutes.
They can be broken up and used in a pasta sauce or added to a stew to stretch it. A vegetable stew can taste meaty with the addition of one or two. If the burgers are good, that is.
Made from minced meat with a little flavouring, they should be a simple product but beef burgers have become more complex with the addition of preservatives to give them long shelf life. Stabilisers and fillers stretch the meat content to make them cheaper and to help keep their shape.
Making your own burgers could not be simpler and they could be made in a large batch and frozen in twos for easy defrosting.
I make my own from minced beef, adding a little grated onion and soya sauce. Once cooked, I grate cheese over them and don’t always serve with a bun, opting instead for grated carrot and beetroot and/or mashed potatoes on the side.
We grilled all of the burgers and observed what oozed from them. Most of the time it was a lot of water, often clouded with brown suds. Not desirable and, at least, wasteful.
While we expected some shrinkage due to some fat burning off, a lot of it was excessive. Many of the burgers were made from meat which was extruded through machines that made them smoother to help to keep their shape. However, this also resulted in a rubbery texture.
John O’Flynn & Sons pure beef burgers 540g - €4
Six frozen burgers have no added flavouring or additives of any kind and had the most meaty flavour. We found it best to sprinkle with salt and black pepper before frying/grilling quickly, then turning down the heat a little to cook inside. The best value we found. A good example of the quality to value that butchers can supply. From Marlborough Street, Cork, shop.
Marks & Spencer The Grill 4 Aberdeen Angus steak burgers 454g - €6.49
These fresh burgers made from 95% Irish beef are flavoured with sea salt and black pepper. There are dried potatoes, rice flour and E223 (sulphites), so watch for intolerances, along with dextrose. By far the tastiest of burgers, while not over-seasoned. These also had the best texture of the supermarket samples — minced finely, but not to a pulp, so at least they had a meaty texture. A little pricey.
Aldi Angus quarter pounder - €1.99
Large and pink when bought frozen, this burger was rubbery when we grilled it and had very little flavour.
Dunnes Simply Better Angus Steak burgers 340g - €2.29
These larger burgers were appealing with a nicely rounded, natural shape when raw. However, they shrank considerably when cooked, and there was very little flavour.
Deluxe Lidl Irish Hereford beef steak burger 454g - €2.49
This burger had a chunky minced meat texture and was juicy and quite tasty. It shrank during cooking, but not as much as others. Produced in Northern Ireland from 95% Irish beef with added water, rice flour, chickpea flour salt, black pepper, cornflour and dextrose.
Birdseye 4 Original beef burgers 227g - €1.50
Made from British and Irish beef, there is 77% beef here along with 14% onion, beef fat, wheat flour, salt, water, onion powder, yeast extract, spices, natural rosemary flavouring. Lots of shrinkage, to about half the raw size and small enough to start with. Flavourings helped the taste.
Big Als 4 quarter pounders 454g - €3.99
These were large and pink when bought frozen. They browned up but some brown suds came out when grilled and the result was rubbery with very little flavour.
Tesco Country Store Aberdeen Angus beef burgers 454g - €2.19
Four quarter pounders of 91% beef are flavoured with sea salt and black pepper and have added onion, rice flour, onion powder, yeast extract. They looked more processed than other Aberdeen Angus burgers, with a smoother, extruded and less natural texture. Produced in Britain using Irish beef. Lots of shrinkage too.
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