Fire up the grille for a Father’s Day feast

In BLOG, RECIPE IDEAS by Kate Lieberman

Cooking is an act of love, and these Italian-inspired burgers will show Papà how much you care. Try them with truffle chips and a spicy salsa rosso.

What ‘Dad’ doesn’t love a barbecue? It’s like a primal rite. When I asked my husband what he wanted for a Father’s Day meal, he answered immediately. “Burgers” – quickly followed with: “I’ll make them”.

Here’s a man for whom food is both sacrosanct and sanctuary. I do the sweet stuff, he’s strictly savoury. And this is his recipe for the “perfect burger”.

It’s serious stuff. Are you ready?

Smoke is your best seasoning

Richard barbecues with hardwood, not charcoal. But he readily admits that Weber Whiskey Wood Chips add a “lovely, layered flavour”. His words, not mine. We’re lucky in having woodland around our home, and forage for twigs that perform the same role.

The bit in the middle matters

There are burgers and there are burgers. According to chef, “You can’t eat any old patty”. I’ve eaten my way through years of trial-and-error. These are his top recommendations:

Ditch the brioche buns

Says Richard: “What you want is texture”. Waitrose No1 Sourdough Rolls have a nice tang, and when toasted on the grille, “char and crisp up to hold the burger without getting soggy”. Having devoured many, I can’t disagree; they’re worth seeking out.

Keep your fillings simple

Just as with pizzas, my ever-purist marito believes that less is more. Here, he’s pared the fillings down to just two: creamy Taleggio cheese and a spicy salsa rosso. You’ll find the former online at Nifeislife and in most good supermarkets or delis.

The sauce is easy.

Finely chop a red onion, and sweat until soft over a medium heat in extra-virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and sprigs of thyme. Add 3 cloves of grated garlic and a tablespoon of red vinegar; then reduce by half. Toss in a tin of chopped tomatoes (Mutti Polpa work best) and cook until thick-sweet. Season with black pepper – the finish should be agrodolce.

Make your own oven chips

No burger is complete without fries – I must admit, Richard’s are a delight of their own.

Preheat your oven to 220 C, then take some large red potatoes (one per person should do) and slice into thick chips with their skins on (you could cut them into wedges too). Blanche in a pan of salted boiling water for 7 minutes; drain, and cool in a colander.

Grab a roasting tray and dollop in a tablespoon or two of duck fat; melt this in your hot oven. Add your chips, some truffle salt (far from cucina povera, but a little goes a long way), and stir to coat. Beef dripping, lard or extra-virgin olive oil all produce great results too – as does a drizzle of truffle oil, before serving.

Cook for about 35 minutes until crisp and golden, turning from time to time.

Experiment and enjoy

None of the above is a recipe, more a suggestion.

That’s the joy of cooking – you’re free to play around. As I often say in my baking classes: “It’s something you’ve got to feel, taste and smell”.

So, get the kids involved; chargrill the burgers on the hob; use shop-bought fries, if you want; choose a soft bun topped with sesame (cue Richard rolling his eyes as he reads…).

I’ll let him conclude: “Pick quality ingredients take care in preparing them. Simply does it.”

Either way, it’s thought that counts. I’m sure your ‘Dad’ would agree.