Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Taking burgers to heck and back

Sometimes I look at recipes and I think, “There’s no way in heck that’s going to work.”*

And more often than not, I don’t even try. I trust my gut instincts ‘cause my gut knows the craic.

What did you think of M&S’s new Best Ever burger? Apologies for the assumption here but according to the high street giant, people from the North eat twice as many burgers as people in Britain. To boot, they reckon that in the past 12 months alone us Nordies ate some 406,000 M&S burgers. That’s impressive but do you know how many of those I scoffed? Not a one.

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Not that I have anything against M&S burgers, but I’m assuming I could make my own at home and for a fraction of the price.

HOWEVER! This new burger has one of my favourite ingredients: Bone marrow. I say ‘ingredient’ but I very rarely use bone marrow as an ingredient. If I’m making shin of beef soup for example, 99 times out of 100, I’ll winkle out the marrow with a spoon and eat it with some salt as a chef’s perk. And what a perk.

Maybe I’ll come home this weekend and Herself will have bought a brace of these M&S Best Ever burgers. If that happens I’ll likely be talking about it next week. Alternatively, if you’re reading this Mark or Spencer and you want to send me on a couple of burgers, I’ll swalli them up and let you know if they’re the best. My gut knows the craic.

In the meantime, the marrow ingredient has me wondering about what people add to their burgers by way of toppings. Some are stranger than others, but we’ll come to that.

But going back to that recipe which I don’t think would work… Peanut butter mayonnaise. Apparently peanut butter mayo is used as a topping for a burger at Matt’s Place in Butte, Montana. I’ve never been to Matt’s Place but on this evidence alone, it sounds like it’s out there.

Coincidentally a friend of mine makes peanut butter mayo on a regular basis. It sounds a bit dodgy (to me at least) but the ingredient list goes something like this… Peanut butter (obviously), garlic, soy sauce, mayonnaise, brown sugar, lemon juice and chilli flakes.

I’ve never tasted it and I’ve never made it and basically, my gut’s telling me to be wary. I suppose it has some kind of a satay vibe going on and in fairness, my gut isn’t infallible. Like the time I thought I didn’t like dim sum until I tasted that first dumpling.

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My problem is, I rarely eat burgers so when the opportunity arrives, I don’t want to experiment with peanuts or jam or fried eggs. I want cheese and lettuce and Michael’s Special Sauce. Maybe I should get out more.

Speaking of getting out more…

My brother tells me there’s a new place in Omagh serving up burgers but instead of a bap, you get your meaty patty between two donuts. Seriously. The Bonut Donut at Rexy Jack’s is a chargrilled beef burger with pig candy (peppered honey bacon), crispy onions, cheese and barbecue sauce, “served between two sweet glazed donuts and frickles.”

My gut is telling me to be wary but I reckon I’d give it a try. Did I mention a 6oz Bonut Donut burger starts at £12.99? It would need to be singing me a tune at that price.

‘Frickles’, if like me you were wondering, are fried pickles. Of course they are.

But probably the trophy for the weirdest ever burger and/or burger topping goes to Kuma’s Corner in Chicago. Get this…
Back in 2013 the diner created an unholy controversy when they started selling the ‘Ghost Burger’. Complete with Ghost chilli mayo, goat shoulder, a red wine reduction they dubbed ‘the blood of Christ’ and – to top it all off – an unconsecrated communion wafer. Needless to say, local Catholics went ape.

Attempting to diffuse the situation Kuma offered a $1,500 donation to the local diocese. Their offering was refused.
Didn’t someone look at that combination and think, “There’s no way in heck that’s going to work.”**

*/** In truth, I don’t use the word ‘heck’. I prefer more colourful language.

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