Aspergers Berjers… (or Beef Burgers with Asparagus…..) on potato chippings/cubes and a sauteed melange

Aspergers berjers2You must forgive an ol’ git, but this needs some explaining.  Here’s the reasoning:

  • This is a lovely recipe which uses the bits of asparagus which you would normally discard.  My favourite phrase (well, one of ’em anyway) being “Don’t Waste Taste”.
  • Asparagus in France is known as asperge.
  • We are currently in our little ‘Lovenest’ in southern France.
  • This book (albeit currently here in blog form) is free to use, but there is a Just Giving account attached to it (which I never look at) which is for the benefit of The New Skill Centre, Ipswich, which is where our lad, David, goes every day as he has Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of autism….. starting to get the drift?
  • Thus, Aspergers Berjers is a play on words; asparagus burgers? – ok, not a very good play on words, but….
  • As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing the work of producing this tome of good cooking, so it’s down to The New Skill Centre, Ipswich to promote it for their benefit.  The more they promote, the more it’ll raise.  Their fund-raising team will get to it soon I’m sure, and then the coffers may start to swell.
  • (Just by the way, I spent years wondering why there was no ham in a hamburger.  Little did I realise that the ‘burger’ is a dish from Hamburg in Germany.  The people are known as Hamburgers.  “Ah, I see now….” I hear you utter in unison! – Yeah, right!)

So, let’s start again.  This dish utilises bits of the asparagus that you would normally discard.  I don’t discard much asparagus as it’s too friggin’ expensive to chuck.  I prepare the asparagus as I describe in the Tricks’n’Tips section, and then I take the rough end bits that have been broken off and salvage a good amount of it for other uses.

  • Asparagus is expensive.  Lovely, but expensive.  Many people simply cut the spears all the same length and discard the tails.
  • STOP!  DON’T DO IT!  Don’t Waste Taste!
  • Hold each spear in both hands and bend it.  Work your way from the thick end (that’s been nearest the ground) until it snaps.  The fibres will determine where it’s best to break.  Put the broken-off ends (tails) aside.  You will use the lovely bits that they call the spears as your main vegetable.
  • The broken-off ends of asparagus have fibres that are long and tough.  That’s why it broke off where it did on each of the spears.  Thus, you can’t use them in the form of spears as they’ll taste great but have the texture of a cruise-liner’s mooring rope.
  • However, if you use a sharp knife on a chopping board, you can slice off quite a few thin slices of asparagus, until the knife starts to become difficult to get through it.  Doing this to all the spears will probably get you thirty or forty narrow discs of asparagus out of a bunch, all of which have very short fibres ; all of which would normally be discarded.
  • Add to that the action of taking these bits that are too hard to salvage even as discs and cutting them lengthways, in the direction of the fibres, into narrow strips and using them to make a subtle but flavoursome stock by boiling them for twenty minutes in just enough water to cover them.  Then, and only then, can the shredded tail ends be discarded.
  • Of course, if you wish to be swish, and serve your asparagus all the same length, you can slice off the unequal length of tails from the good bits, adding those discs to whatever you’re making.
  • Asparagus doesn’t take much cooking, especially the thin stuff.  Just gently pan-fried in a minuscule drop of oil or butter with plenty of seasoning.

So, what did I do for the Aspergers Berjers?

 

Prep:          30 mins.

Cooking:      Spuds 50 mins, the rest, 20 mins

Course:        Dinner/dinner party

Serves:       4 (or 6 if you’re mean….depends on the size of the pack of mince and the size of the burgers)

Rating:         2.  Easy. You can do it…… YEAH!

For four people, find:

  • A pack of beef mince – enough for four – use your bonce to gauge quantity.  5% fat is good, but if you’re not following a ‘regime’ it won’t matter….5; 10; 15; 20.  (You see, I try to make everything “Slimming World Aware”, which means that I try to cut down the fat content, or at least give you, the cook, an opportunity to do so.)
  • 2 onions – red is my choice, but….
  • Garlic cloves – quantity and type are your choice – I used 8 large fresh/wet
  • Asparagus – a good sized bunch
  • Potatoes – enough for 4 people
  • Carrots & or French beans – very optional
  • A bit of red pepper
  • A bit of yellow pepper
  • Seasonings – salt, pepper, a little curry powder or chili powder (careful!)
  • Oil or Fry-Light
  • Stock cube
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan – or two would be better…
  • Food processor
  • A couple of bowls, one larger than the other.
  • Oven dish/baking tray/oven tin/flan tin/old bit of metal that you found by the side of the road…..washed, of course.

Method:

  • Peel the spuds and cut into 1cm cubes.  Pop ’em into a saucepan with boiling water and just soften ’em a bit: about 5-10 mins.   Retain the water.
  • Peel the optional carrots and cut into whatever shape you prefer.  Top’n’tail the optional French beans.  Put both aside for later.  (You’ll see these on the pic, but the dish didn’t really need them, so you can just forget ’em if you wish).
  • Do the biz with the asparagus, as above.  Put half of the thin circles into a food processor. The other half in a bowl of some sort.  Keep the spears (whether identical lengths or not) for later.
  • Cut the onions.  Put half of one onion, chopped medium sized, into the food processor.  Put the rest  into the smaller bowl.
  • Peel the garlic cloves and put them into the bowl.
  • Cut the peppers (colour and quantity your choice) into quite large chunks and put them into the bowl.
  • Blitz the onions and asparagus discs until tiny and put into a larger bowl, with the pack of minced beef, broken up.  Mix with a fork.
  • Add the curry/chili powder, the salt, quite a bit of pepper (black?)  and mix thoroughly.  Scrunch it up with your hands.  Mix/scrunch well into a gooey mixture/scrunchture. (I don’t give a shit that it’s not a word….. it SHOULD BE!)
  • Make balls and then flatten them into burgers.   If they do not behave and fall apart, bung it all back in the bowl, add an egg and mix/scrunch again.  It’s a good thing to put the burger shapes onto a bit of greaseproof paper/baking parchment, on a plate.  Stuff ’em into the fridge for an hour or so, or overnight.  If you wish to apply any other flavours, add them before the fridge.
  • Start to boil the carrots & beans if you’re gonna have them.
  • Put the potato cubes onto a metal sheet or oven dish, spray liberally with Fry-Light, and then again…..and then again (or just use oil), seasoning and then put into an oven at 200+C for half an hour.
  • Heavily Fry-Light the frying pan (or just use oil) and start the contents of the bowl lightly frying on a medium heat.  Put the asparagus spears in as well.
  • In a smaller frying pan, fry off the burgers.  It might be nice to sprinkle a little more curry powder on each surface just as they are about to be fried.  Your choice.  Medium heat – we don’t want them blackened at all.  Golden brown’s what you’re aiming for. “When they’re brown, they’re done……when they’re black they’re buggered!” as my dad use to say.
  • Put the stock cubes into the potato/veg water (yes, even if the veg is still in there)
  • Turn the burgers quite often.  Agitate the melange & asparagus quite often.  Check on the spud cubes too.  They need to be crisping up.
  • Get the plates ready.  You can warm the plates in hot washing-up water and then they’re warm for the meal (dry ’em up though….)
  • Spread the crispy cubes, the melange, etc.  Put the asparagus down the middle and a burger each side.  Pour the ‘gravy’ on sparingly, it’s only there for a little moisture.
  • Go fer it!

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