The Burger. TRES BLOOMING FASHIONABLE these days with haute cuisine burger vans popping up everywhere; peeking from behind trees, gate-crashing birthday parties, jumping over fences and slapping you in the face with a greasy beef patty – these days they are EVERYWHERE.
We also have restaurants tweaking and flexing their ultimate burger ingredients with gay abandon; from Hawksmoor’s K-town kimchi burger and their mystery THIRD burger jammed with T-Rex bone marrow and ground unicorn haunch, Viajante’s vanilla onions, Bar Boulud’s sense of French superiority, MeatWagon’s hand-cranked bobcat burger with 20% jalapenos and 80% real bobcat, and niche brioche bun recipes being tossed around like a bemused dwarf at a regional dwarf-tossing competition. Exciting times.
"Dwarf tossing? HILARIOUS"
However many social historians and economic experts are scared and confused about how far this burger obsession will go. Some are even claiming we are in some kind of beef bubble and that THIS CANNOT CONTINUE.
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Lucky Chip are the latest entrant to jump on the unsinkable ship HMS POSH BURGER and have been frequenting St John’s Church car park in Kensal Rise on Friday/Saturday nights with slightly creepy and superinjunction-worthy regularity. Spotting a RT by @parklifeblog that Lucky Chip were serving burgers down the road from me, I commanded the dinner risotto to BE HALTED YO, jumped on a bike and pegged it down to see what the hell was going down.
VAN OF LIFE
I was greeted by a nicely kitted-out van, some candlelit tables, music and MEAT. The special of the day was the Magnum PI but I went for the El Chappo which seemed to be some kind of pimped version of the Bobcat with extra bacon, blue cheese, garlic aioli and cress. All the meat was from the Ginger Pig and the brioche buns glinted in the churchyard moonlight. There was also a section of Hot Dogs but I passed; until someone starts copying Hot Doug’s Encased Meat Emporium in Chicago and starts filling those tubes with fois gras, venison, duck and JOY – I ain’t biting.
Cycling straight home with two burgers, two portions of chips and a grin on the face – I assessed my opponent. The verdict? My El Chappo was excellent. Bun held up, meat was spot on and the mix of heat and garlicky punch rounded it up nicely. The regular burger was also good but came with a Big Mac-style pink sauce which distracted. Pickles were tres bon and fries were unpeeled, thin cut but slightly too salty.
Having not sampled MeatEasy, Hawksmoor, Barbecoa or Bar Boulud’s offerings (WHAT KIND OF MEAT BLOG ARE WE?!? *fires self* *gets job in McDonalds*) – I cannae say if this is the ultimate burger; but it tasted REAL GOOD and I’ll be going back for more.
Follow Lucky Chip on Twitter here and Facebook here.
Guest posts? PAH – WHO NEEDS THEM? I do in fact – and I have recruited the nimble (and murderous) fingers of David ‘the rabbit killer’ Brackin of StuffUSell fame to recant a tale of dead bunnies, butchered pigeons and a whole lot more…
Food Safari run two different Wild Meat in a Day courses – one for small game, and the other for venison. Both are led by Robert Gooch of The Wild Meat Company in the morning, and then in the afternoon Madalene Bonvini-Hamel of The British Larder — recently recognised by Hardens as one of the best UK restaurant openings this year — demonstrates cookery techniques.
The Wild Meat Company supply a wide range of freshly prepared game meat – from snipe to venison – and they offer a mail order service sent in specially insulated boxes with ice packs to keep your meat chilled for 24 hours. We went to their estate near Woodbridge and into their meat preparation facility to skin and butcher pigeon and rabbit.
"I CAN SEE IT'S SOUL"
Our pigeons were already plucked, but needed gutting and boning. We proceeded under the careful eye of Ray Kent – a butcher with over 30 years of experience – decapitating and clearing the crop of the bird’s last meal (a surprising variety of berries and young crops in our group), followed by a full evisceration of the carcass through the tail and extraction of the major organs. A vegetarian was seen to leave at this point. The skin on a pigeon is quite fragile and liable to tear (it forms an important protection from drying out during cooking) so boning is a very careful process, working from the spine round to the breast, detaching limbs on the way. A little like the runners-up on the Generation Game, ours pigeons were all inventively different from the ideal, but once neatly rolled with a little stuffing looked surprisingly passable.
Next up were the bunnies. Freshly caught – either by ferret or by shooting – they had been partially gutted and hung for a few days. Despite this, the smell was quite overpowering in some instances — particularly the males with full bladders. Once decapitated, the skin is fairly easily peeled back, starting in the central body and working to neck and tail, revealing a dark pink fleshy body. The feet are chopped off and bung cut from around the h-bone, allowing a clean carcass to remain. The saddle and haunches are the main sources of meat and one rabbit can comfortably feed two people.
Back at The British Larder, after a pint of the local ale and canapes, Maddy had us gathered around to see how a Michelin-starred chef prepares the beasts we had been handling that morning. She explained each step and alternatives that we could use at home if — for example — we were lacking a vacuum-packed constant-temperature slow-cooking water bath in which to prepare the rabbit legs (24 hours at 60 degrees, since you ask). The results were outstanding — and immediately gratifying — as we were able to move through to the restaurant and be served the dishes for a late lunch.
Food Safari Wild Meat in a Day course is £150 per person, and can be booked online
And that is the summary of why ox cheek tastes like a plate of Jesus beef.
I AM MAKING MY FACE TASTE BETTER
Turned into ragu as per @justcookit, slow cooked with star-anise for a bit of Dance Dance Cultural Revolution-style meat joy, or just stewed in a pot with some beer - an average cow cheek is a big sack of bloody grossness that just wants to be loved.
So what did I do with it?
Using my vintage SPONG hand-cranked mincer (post to follow), I turned 250g of moo-visage into a well-rounded patty for griddling while singing the lyrics to Soulja Boy ‘CRANK DAT’ while I CRANKED DAT MINCER and SUPERMANNED THAT COW. (or maybe not).
And how did we end up? My internet sources claimed the ultimate burger meat combo was ox cheek, hanger steak and pork fat but with laziness on my side I’d managed to avoid including the other two. Instead I had a burger of pure face. Nothing just minced chud-chewing cow cheek. Big lumps of ..ok I digress…but all I can say is that it tasted like a PUNCH IN THE FACE.
YOU MUST EAT ME. IT IS WRITTEN IN THE STARS.
My heart stopped about three time as I chewed my way through a plate of gout, the sheer gaminess of the meat punching a hole through my own cheek in ironic beef vengeance; while it may be a perfect component of the ultimate burger, by itself its POWER was TOTAL OVERKILL.
Chewy, sinewy, beefy and rare – this burger jumped in my mouth and drop-kicked my tongue down my throat, killing me in the process.
The schnitzel. The escalope. The breaded piece of mystery-meat lazily wedged in your 2 am drunk zinger tower burger. All pretenders to the crown of the ultimate way to deep-fry some breaded-meat but none, NONE can compare to the porky goodness of the Japanese warrior – TONKATSU.
Coming from the Japanese words TON meaning ‘FUCKING AWESOME’ and KATSU meaning ‘OOH YEAH THIS TASTES LIKE DISCO TONGUE’, the tonkatsu combines a grade-A slice of pig meat, panko-ninja breadcrumbs and the power of DEEP-FRYING into a crispy slice of pure deliciousness.
The pork loin (pictured is some belly) had a massive bone (ooh-er) to deal with – the only option (apart from an arc-laser) was to use a mitre-saw from the shed. Slicing through bone like all good serial-killer implements should, I got myself a nice slice of loin to de-bone and hammer thin for stage 2.
Part 2. BREAD THAT MOTHERFUCKER
Thumping the pork meat with MY FIST into a flat, tender escalope, I then used the technique of flour-egg-flour-egg-flour and then a hard-press into the panko breadcrumbs to get myself a fully breaded TONKATSU ready for frying.
'PLEASE DON'T EAT ME'
Stage 6 : INTO THE FIRES OF HELL THE PORK MUST GO
Next is to raise a vat of boiling oil to around 300 degrees-something and drop the pork bomb into the oily abyss. Around 6 minutes in total, turning over a few times will get you to the well-browned goodness on the outside and well-cooked firmness on the inside.
Finally I ate it and it was awesome. Took me about 5 mins to get it down my gob. Juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, it was kept on the raised rack for about 10mins for the meat to relax and the tonkatsu to remain crunchy. Served with some rice and BULLDOG-sauce (made with real bulldog and mixed with a bit of english mustard) – it owned my face.
Readers. Meat Lovers. Carnivores. It has been too long.
With such absence, many may have thought I had turned vegetarian or had all my teeth knocked out and have been fed pureed baby food via a tube for the last year but this is FALSEHOOD. My meat power has been strong, the meat consumption has increased and actually escalated to the point where I CANNOT MEATBLOG NOT NO MORE.
So MeatSalad is back.
So what is in store for all you meat lovers?
An ode to offal, a portly pile of pig parts, boasts of beastly butchery of bestial bits followed by interviews with meat masters, pictures of AXES, ultimate hamburger recipes and an amusingly-sized black pudding.
Yes officer. That is a piece of beef...um...
And that’s just for starters…stay tuned over the next few days and get prepared for your regular portion of MEAT SALAD!