Most Australians would argue that their ubiquitous Aussie Hamburger just wouldn't be the same without a couple of slices of beetroot.
Even though fast-food franchises sell 'burgers' they are very rarely the type that Aussie connoisseurs enjoy. The traditional Australian hamburgers are usually bought from fish and chip shops or milk bars. The hamburger meat is almost always ground beef, or "mince" as it is more commonly referred to in Australia. They commonly include tomato, lettuce, grilled onion and meat as minimum, and can optionally include cheese, beetroot, pineapple, a fried egg and bacon. If all these optional ingredients are included it is known in Australia as a "burger with the lot".
A burger with 'the lot' is certainly not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for American chef, David Chang.
The internationally-acclaimed owner of the Momofuku series of restaurants has labelled Australia's burgers the world's worst in a piece in his food magazine, The Lucky Peach.
"You know who f---- up burgers more than anyone else in the world? Australians. Australia has no idea what a burger is. They put a fried egg on their burger. They put canned beetroot on it, like a wedge of it. I am not joking you. This is how they eat their burger," he writes in his burger manifesto.
Well, Mr Chang, Australian's take umbrage to that! Everyone knows Aussie Hamburgers are the best in the world!
Where did the name "Hamburger" come from?
The term hamburger originally derives from Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city. In German, Burg means "castle", "fortified settlement" or "fortified refuge" and is a widespread component of place names. The first element of the name is perhaps from Old High German hamma, referring to a bend in a river, or Middle High German hamme, referring to an enclosed area of pastureland.
In various arts of the world the term "burger" can be associated with many different types of sandwiches similar to a (ground meat or mince) hamburger, but made of different meats like buffalo venison, kangaroo, turkey, elk, lamb or fish like salmon in the salmon burger, but even with meatless sandwiches as is the case of the veggie burger. You can even get crocodile or ostrich burgers!
When did Aussie Hamburgers start appearing?
Australian hamburger sightings started during the 1930s: a by-product, no doubt, of our blossoming post-first world war relationship with America, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that beetroot began regularly appearing alongside tomato, lettuce and onion on burgers. That was thanks largely to the openings of the Edgell and Golden Circle canneries in 1926 and 1947 respectively – but one of the more interesting theories, however, suggests the trend has its origins in pranking US troops ashore on R&R.
According to Warren Fahey, Australian folklore collector and author of Australian food history compendium, Tucker Track, beetroot on burgers had its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s following the simultaneous 1971 arrival of fast food’s big two – the first McDonald’s opened in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona, while Hungry Jacks, the Aussie version of Burger King, began its Aussie campaign in Innaloo, just north of Perth.
“Maybe it was our desire not to be Americanised?” Fahey said...
...“For some reason the idea of hamburger wrapping stained by beetroot juice was accepted as the sign of a great hamburger. People get quite emotional over the subject of Australian hamburgers. Some say a real hamburger must have slices of canned beetroot and others still declare its inclusion as a travesty.”
Aussie Hamburger Recipe
Below, you'll find a recipe for making a good ol' Aussie Hamburger with the Lot. This recipe comes from Greg's Kitchen Youtube channel. Before you start though, read on for a few tips to make your burger extra-special...
A good, proportionately scaled patty is the nucleus of a good burger, so buy buns smaller than your patties. The meat will shrink as it cooks. Better yet, make your own patties and shape each one slightly larger than the buns you’ll be using. While budget and taste will dictate the beef you or your butcher will be mincing – grass-fed or grain-fed? Ribeye or rump? – avoid lean cuts like eye round or topside: a healthy percentage of fat in your mince will yield juicier, tastier burgers.
It’s also important not to overload your base. Taking the extra minute to properly spin- or pat-dry your lettuce will be time well spent. If you’re chasing a little extra nutrition, baby spinach leaves are an ideal stand-in for iceberg lettuce.
Rather than the single thick, ungainly disc of tomato, make your slices thinner but put more of them in the burger. One trick to stop “wet” ingredients like tomato, pineapple rings and beetroot soggyfying (made that one up myself) your burger is to add them at the last possible moment.
OK so here we go...
- Onions, sliced
- Beef mince
- Salt & Pepper
- Bacon rashers
- Bread rolls
- Pineapple rings
- Cheese (shredded or sliced)
- Beetroot (almost a necessity)
- Tomato (cut in thin slices)
- BBQ sauce (or Tomato sauce)
- Grease a large frying pan
- Fry the onion rings until evenly cooked through
- Move the onion rings to one side and add the mince (in the rough shape of a patty)
- Season the mince with salt & pepper while it's frying
- Make room in the pan and add a bacon rasher or two
- Flip the meat patty over to start cooking the other side
- Prepare the bread roll by cutting it in half lenghtways and buttering it on the cut sides (you can toast the buttered sides of the roll for a more crunchy texture)
- Move all the items in the pan over again and add a pineapple ring to the pan
- Cook the pineapple ring on both sides until it's nice and brown and caramelised
- Make space in the pan and add an egg. Fry the egg so the white's cooked and the yolk is nice and runny.
- After a minute or so turn the pan off (the residual heat will continue to cook the fried ingredients)
BUILDING THE BURGER
- Place the bottom half of the bread roll onto a plate
- Add the meat patty
- Add the caramelised onions to the top of the meat patty
- Add the BBQ or Tomato sauce by squirting it over the onions
- Then add the bacon, tomato & pineapple in that order
- Add the cheese on top of all this
- Then add the beetroot and lettuce
- Finally add the egg, then
- place the other half of the bread roll on top
- Squishy it all down
- Enjoy and see if you can eat it without everything getting all over your hands and face (although, that's the best part)
To help you get this just right check out the video below from Greg's Kitchen...