This week we have had an American visitor. She and I go way back, and share a love for exploring new cities and delicious food. Aside from a very touristy trip around the Big Smoke, reminiscing about old times and many a giggle about American vs English terminology (fanny pack / bum bag never gets old) our week together revolved around one major thing (unsurprisingly) CHEESE!
Did you know that The States are trying to ban the import of Mimolette? And that unpasteurised cheeses are generally a big no no? Naturally, therefore, we spent as much time as possible introducing her to all the European delights that our friends over the pond can only dream of. As it is (a) definitely summer now, (b) earlier this month the American’s celebrated their independence and (c) as nod to a lovely lady from San Diego, this month’s focus is all about the not so humble Burger. Just as a side note; Ever wondered why a Hamburger doesn’t contain any pig? The meat patty in fact originates from the German city of Hamburg!
Goat’s Cheddar and Lemon & Herb Encrusted Chicken Breast.
Some would argue that before I am even out of the blocks I am cheating a little. Technically a chicken breast is not a burger, but you’ll forgive me if I give the breadcrumbed offerings usually associated with a chicken burger a wide berth. I am seriously impressed with this Goat’s alternative to the classic cheddar, the clean white colouring and the distinct earthiness make it unmistakably not cow’s, but its full flavoured and a fine alternative. Quite simply this is a combo that works, lemony fresh plays well with the cheese and the chicken, the cheese is strong enough to stand up for itself but the juicy chicken doesn’t overpower it.
Cantal and Lamb Burger
Cheese and Lamb aren’t natural bedfellows with notable exceptions (ie Feta and Halloumi). Cantal on the other hand is a French classic. It has a distinct smooth texture and a subtle but earthy taste, and a rich clean bite. I found that this palate cleansing attribute work wonderfully with the rich lamb, cutting through some of the greasiness without overpowering the senses. Rather than topping your burger with a traditional sad lettuce leaf, try ripping up a good bunch of mint – classic with the lamb, surprisingly good with the Cantal too.
Brinkworth Blue and Griddled Portobello Mushroom
I fear people often see a Portobello mushroom burger on a menu and dismiss is simply as a vegetarian option without much substance. This is where I would love to dissuade you. Portobello mushrooms have a rich silkiness and an almost meat like texture, not only a fantastic ‘alternative’, but also pretty damn good in their own right. Simply barbecue or use a griddle pan to cook the mushroom with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Whilst Blue is a common choice with a mushroom dish, the reason this combination is so fine is thanks to the chestnut notes in the Brinkworth Blue.
Smoked Tomme D’Alsace and Venison
Venison is rich, there’s no denying that. However, the very nature of this lean meat means that it makes a cracking burger and is definitely one to look out for if you fancy a treat. If you asked me off the cuff what cheese would work best with dear old Bambi, I’d probably jump for a Stilton or a Gruyere, but following experimentation (it’s a hard life) this clean, smoked cheese works a treat. This Smoked Tomme, from Alsace certainly smells strongly smoked, whereas in actual fact the flavour is much more subtle. We found that this meant you could enjoy the pepperiness of the meat with a good hunk of cheese but not feel like it was too much.
Keltic Gold and Pork & Apple Burgers
This Cornish cheese is rind washed in cider, with a good smooth texture. My American friend loves British Cider (as a Bath Uni Alum this is something I wholeheartedly support) and as such it was deemed that the only way forward was to pair this cheese with a Pork and Apple Burger. I’d suggest getting your burger from a proper Butcher. Supermarket versions tend to be overly sweet and cloying whereas this cheese works perfectly with a meaty burger with little gems of fruit. The distinctive orange rind makes the burger look pretty too.
N.B: Obviously all these cheeses work fabulously with a classic Beef Burger too – but there’s no harm in trying something a little different every now and again!