Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pea and Mint Burgers

Mr Pea. You impress me. You look all small and humble but you're so versatile. You're so green. You're good for me. I can eat you au naturale. I can mix you with my mash or get all fancy and whizz you into a puree. I could even eat you frozen straight out of the freezer. OK, maybe that's just me.

Or, I could mix you with mint and other bits and bobs and make you into a pea-licious burger. OK OK, ignoring my bad word play, these were really yummy wee things, perfect for the summer. My carnivorous boyfriend even said that if he were a vegetarian, he'd be happy to eat these for a main course instead of the usual tart or risotto that vegetarians quite often get lumbered with. Was I shocked? Yes, I was.

I was actually searching for a recipe for a cauliflower cheese burger. I used to have them as a child, fresh from the frozen food section of the local supermarket. I used to really like them but I'd feel like I'd committed a sin if I was to be quite so kitchen lazy nowadays. I didn't find a recipe for the cauliflower burgers but I did stumble across these courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi. It's made me want to buy his book but I'm not sure I'd be allowed to add another to my ever expanding collection. Sad.

If you like getting messy in the kitchen, these are for you. If not, maybe you should walk away now. They're really quite wet and very messy when you're trying to form them into patties, which is why you have to freeze them before coating in breadcrumbs. If you skip the freezer step, you'd end up with a pea and mint salsa. Tasty I'm sure but not what I was after. I had to add some breadcrumbs to the mix which helped but, as long as you use a gentle touch, they'll turn out swell. 

Peas, mint, shallots, garlic, an egg and a whole lot of seasoning. That's pretty much it. They're really handy for a weekday meal too, because you can just leave them in the freezer, take them out when needed, coat them in breadcrumbs and bung them straight in the oven from frozen. Convenient, no? 

Don't thank me. Thank the pea.

Makes 12

Slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.

The recipe call for the burgers to be shallow fried in about 2.5cm of oil. I however, was trying to be all miss goody two shoes, so I sealed them for a few minutes in a frying pan and then finished them off in the oven. If you're naughty, then take a look at the original recipe.

The recipe says to serve it with a sour cream and mint sauce but I ran out of mint so it wasn't to be for me. It would go really well though I think, so I'll jot down the directions below.

4 tbsp olive oil
6 large shallots, finely chopped (300g net weight)
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
700g fresh peas (or frozen, defrosted)
20g mint leaves, finely shredded
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
4 free-range eggs, beaten (one egg in a separate bowl, for the pea mixture)
Salt and black pepper
40g breadcrumbs, for the pea mix (or as many as means that you can form the patties)
150g breadcrumbs, for coating
Sunflower oil, for frying

For the sauce
1 tsp dried mint
120g soured cream
1tbsp olive oil

Gently heat the oil in a large pan and saute the shallots on a medium heat until soft and translucent. (About 15-20 minutes). Add the vinegar, cook for a further 2 minutes and take off the heat.
Whilst the shallots are cooking, briefly blitz the peas in a food processor. They need to break down but you don't want them to be mushy peas.
Transfer to ta large bowl and mix in the shallots, egg, mint, garlic and the breadcrumbs, if you need them. Add half a teaspoon of salt and lots of pepper and make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Take a tray that will fit in the freezer and line it with baking paper. Shape into 12 patties, approximately 7cm in diameter and 2cm thick, and pop them in the freezer for at least an hour. (Or until you need them as I did).
When you're ready to cook them, preheat the oven to 200C and put the egg into one bowl and the breadcrumbs into another. One at a time, dip each burger into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs, making sure they're properly coated.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers for about 3 minutes each side until golden and 'sealed'. Transfer them to a roasting tray and bake in the preheated oven, flipping once, for about 30 minutes until hot all the way through and a lovely golden brown all over. Or you could just put the whole frying pan in the oven if you've got one with a heat proof handle. (I also tried to bake these from scratch in the oven. They also turned out well but were just a bit more fragile when flipping them).  

For the sauce

While the burgers are cooking, make the sauce. All you've got to do is mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

Bingo. Done.

I served them with lovely new potatoes and a salad. 

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