Beef and stout ale are perfect partners, their beautiful friendship having been explored before, back in the early days of the blog. The smoky, charred, rich flavour of the stout gives the meat a really hearty body. It’s no wonder the two so frequently find each other in the comfort food of a winter stew. However, as I fall asleep at night I can’t help but wonder what other forms such classic flavour pairings could take. It was on one such night that this came to mind.
Your biggest challenge in making these burgers is moisture. Between the onion, the meat juices and the Guinness you’re potentially looking at a sloppy joe. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and might be to your liking. In any case, I like my burgers to hold their shape a little better, hence the addition of quite so much flour. Ultimately it’s up to you. A nice side effect of using a great deal of flour is the crisping on the outside of the burger, which also doubles up as a seal for the moisture in the dish.
The sweet cherry sauce beautifully complements the savoury beef and beer flavours and was inspired by a Guinness-Cherry Brownie recipe I once came across.
For the Burgers
- Beef Mince
- Guinness (or any other stout ale – I like the stronger ‘foreign extra’ variety for its depth of flavour)
- Optional suggestions: Rosemary/Parsley/Capers/Garlic
For the Cherry Sauce
- Tinned Black Cherries (or fresh with a few tablespoons of water)
- Sugar (preferably brown for the molasses)
- Balsamic Vinegar
For the Burgers
- Finely chop the onion and add to a large bowl. To help them lose them moisture, toss with some salt and leave in a collander for 15 minutes.
- Add the beef mince and combine thoroughly.
- Pour in a little Guinness – start with a few splashes and begin to work through. Keep going until you have a fairly sloppy mixture but one that still largely keeps its shape.
- Add flour a little at a time and work through until your mixture is dry enough to work with. Season with some salt and pepper at this point.
- Dust a work surface and your hands with flour and start shaping the mixture into patties. Start with balls, then flatten, pat into discs and gently press down on the middle so it is slightly concave. This will help prevent the burgers from turning into a meatball shape as they cook and the meat contracts.
- Heat some oil in a frying/griddle pan. When it is sizzling add the patties and fry, trying not to work them too much, until they cooked to your liking. As this is beef, it’s really down to personal preference. Owing to the liquid inside the mixture I’d err on the side of medium to well, just so it doesn’t all fall apart.
For the Cherry Sauce
- Bring the contents of a can of black cherries to a simmer in a saucepan.
if using fresh cherries put in a pan with a few splashes of water.
- As they simmer, add a few teaspoons of sugar, tasting between each spoonful until it has lost its sour edge.
- Depending on how chunky/smooth you would like the sauce, either blend/crush with a wooden spoon/leave your cherries as they are. I removed the cherries to a small food processor and blitzed until fairly smooth.
- Mix a little flour/corn flour with some cold water in roughly a 1:2 ratio. Add the flour-water to the cherry sauce a teaspoon at a time and stir through, continuing to simmer. The more you add, the thicker the sauce will become. Again, this is to your liking. It will also thicken slightly on standing, which I recommend doing for at least 5 minutes before topping the burgers.
- Stir through a splash of guinness just before serving. The uncooked Guinness will add that wonderful last kick to the dish.
For me it wouldn’t be a burger without cheese. In this case, the crumbly, slightly sweet Wensleydale cheese seemed like the obvious choice. Don’t be afraid to smother the burgers in the sauce either! What the dish lacks in looks it more than makes up for in flavour.