Thomasina Miers’ recipe for pork, thyme and manchego burgers

There’s nothing quite like a burger night. I love trying different minces from butchers (they freeze well if you don’t use them immediately), with a good ratio of fat for flavour and texture, and I love a good veggie burger, too. With meat, I am led by the mantra “less, but better quality” (save our rivers from factory farms!), so the patties aren’t huge, but I like to go wild on the trimmings: a smorgasbord of slaws and salads, beans, crisp potato wedges or fries, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, mayos and hot sauces.

Fatty pork, liquoricey fennel and smoky chipotle with a hint of floral thyme makes for a great burger.

Prep 20 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove
, peeled and crushed
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 tbsp thyme leaves

2 tsp fennel seeds
, roughly ground
450g free-range pork mince
60g fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and black pepper

4-6 slices of manchego cheese

For the chipotle relish
1 ½ tbsp chipotle en adobo
2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp
dijon mustard
½ tsp soft brown sugar
A splash of red-wine vinegar
Burger buns and mayonnaise
, to serve

Warm two tablespoons of the olive oil in a small pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and paprika for seven to eight minutes until softened. Add the thyme and fennel seeds and cook for another few minutes to warm through. Empty into a mixing bowl with the pork, breadcrumbs and plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper. Scrunch everything together with your hands to mix well, then shape into patties. Put in the fridge if not cooking immediately.

Meanwhile, make the ketchup by mixing the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more sugar or chipotle.

Heat a large griddle pan over a medium-high heat until smoking hot. Brush with a tiny bit of oil and cook the patties for two to three minutes on one side, then turn over. Put a slice of manchego on top of each one and cook the other side for two to four minutes more, depending on the size of the burgers and how you like them. You can press them with your fingers to test how cooked they are: if firm, they are well done; less firm and they will be rare and juicier, which is how I like them.

Leave the burgers to rest while you toast some buns. Serve, getting everyone to build their own burgers with the relish, mayonnaise and anything else.

If you are making veggie burgers instead, try mixing grated beetroot with lentils or black beans, oats and mushrooms with plenty of spices and seasoning.

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