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Monday, 12 May 2014

Recipe - the Benio Burger

The Benio burger won the MartinJenkins Burger Challenge with a whopping 9.13/10 average score.  As a public service to readers (and so Kevin can bask a bit more in the all-to-short glory), the Benio Burgers' have kindly provided the recipe for their masterpiece.

Red onion jam

  • 80gm butter
  • 5 medium red onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 100gm (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 135 ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml red wine

  1. Melt the butter in A large saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the onion and salt, ad cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. 
  3. Add the red wine vinegar and red wine and bring to the boil. 
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

The red onion jam will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, and can be frozen.

Beef patties with black beer

  • 1.5kg minced beef
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup of black beer
  • Several slices of gruyere

  1. combine the minced beef, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 
  2. Add in the beer and mix until absorbed 
  3. Form into broad, thick patties.  Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

  •   Sesame seed buns


 Completion and assembly

  1. Cook patties on a pre-heated grill, about 5 minutes per side.
  2. Once flipped, add slices of gruyere to top of patties.  Remove from the grill to rest.
  3.  Halve the sesame seed buns and lightly grill
  4. Add the patty with melted cheese on the bottom half bun
  5. Add the red onion jam on the cheese
  6. Add a generous amount of baby roquette leaves on the jam
  7. Add the top half bun
  8. Serve with an artisan stout.



The fine print

A great burger has balanced flavours, is nutritious, and can be eaten by people without teeth. Contrast that with bad burgers: they taste bad or have no taste, they have the nutrition rating of weetbix, and stain your top as you try to gnaw off that tough piece of steak or stale ciabatta.

The nutritional value and the eatability of the Benio Burger are self-evident. All the major food groups are represented, and gummy people could easily devour it.

What about the flavour? Your taste buds are right, the Benio Burger is the most flavoursome on the market. A flavour triumph rests on balancing the five major flavours. Sometimes this means contrast, sometimes this means emphasis. The genius of the Benio Burger is that it achieves the perfect balance.

Just the right amount of salt is added to both the patty and the jam. Sweetness is added through the clever addition of red onions, both in the jam and in the patty, and emphasised by the brown sugar in the jam. Sour notes are present through the vinegar (it’s important to use only the best). Bitter tones are achieved through the roquette and of course the stout in the patty.

But the real secret of the Benio Burger lies in unleashing the power of umami. Jacqueline B. Marcus (1)  noted that

“Aside from its own yummy taste, umami alters the perception of other tastes: Sodium seems saltier, sugar sweeter, and sour and bitter less acerbic and biting. Umami also enhances the perception of thickness and complexity, and improves the overall palatability of some foods and beverages. Umami has become an increasingly important tool for balancing the five basic tastes, aromas, and textures in product formulation and recipe development.”

The Benio Burger is rich in umami through the Worcestershire sauce, the onions, the beef, and the gruyere.

New research (2) notes “Grilling meat gives it great flavour. This taste, though, comes at a price, since the process creates molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) which damage DNA and thus increase the eater’s chances of developing colon cancer”. The research showed that marinating the meat in black beer more than halved the PAHS count. Burgers like the Benio Burger that use this technique are “Tasty and healthy too, then. Just what the doctor ordered”.

The soft roasted coffee and chocolate tones of the stout (bitter balanced by sweet-sweet) supercharge the Benio Burger to perfection.

The artisanal provenance of the stout raises the combination to ethereal.



(1) Jacqueline B. Marcus, “Unleashing the Power of Umami”, Food Technology, November 2009, Volume 63, No. 11

(2) “A marriage made in heaven – to reduce the risk of barbecuing meat, just add beer”, The Economist, 5 April 2014, p68

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