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Try Donal Skehan’s twists on the classic burger — pork and fennel, hoisin duck and halloumi

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Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw. Picture: Donal Skehan

Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw. Picture: Donal Skehan

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Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

We Irish people have upped our burger game of late. Gone are the days when a smush of supermarket minced beef with Dijon mustard, ketchup, chopped onions and garlic, complete with a sesame-seed bun, was our best effort.

Now it’s more common to find a well-seasoned burger patty with a good percentage of fat, perhaps a little smoked element for good measure, not too much extra fuss in terms of toppings and, of course, a now slightly ubiquitous brioche bun.

Not only has our understanding of the anatomy of the perfect burger helped form some serious offerings across the country, but it has also spawned plenty of variations on the classic.

Having spent five years in Los Angeles, I will always have an affinity and appreciation for the smash burger. Balls of good mince smashed on a large, smoking-hot skillet provides you with gnarly charred edges and perfectly cooked meat. Stack ’em up with plenty of cheese, a toasted bun and you have my favourite burger in the world.

There are also veggie options aplenty these days, from the impossible burger, with its oddly oozing centre, to beet burgers — the options are endless. I suggest you try my halloumi burgers. They are an ideal vegetarian option, made all the more satisfying with grilled mushrooms and squeaky, salty cheese.

Or, as an alternative to the beef burger, give the pork sausage patties a go here. Spiked with fennel and topped with roasted peppers, they are particularly delicious cooked over a hot barbecue. Add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes if you like them spicy, but the addition of a slice of scamorza cheese is essential for that stringy melted cheese moment as you take your first bite.

For a last burger fling, try something completely different in the form of my sticky hoisin duck burgers, topped with a fried egg. Is there anything in the world not improved with an oozing fried egg?

Three burgers, one of which I hope will take your fancy this weekend, come rain or shine!

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Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw

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Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw. Picture: Donal Skehan

Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw. Picture: Donal Skehan

Halloumi Burgers with Shaved Vegetable Slaw. Picture: Donal Skehan

Time: 40 mins Serves: 4

Ingredients
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
4 large flat mushrooms
1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
200g halloumi cheese, sliced

For the shaved vegetable slaw:
½ head cabbage, shaved on a mandolin
1 head fennel, shaved on a mandolin
A good handful of dill, roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and ground black pepper

To serve:
4 brioche burger buns
Red-onion marmalade
Rocket leaves
Mixed sprouts
Avocado, sliced

Method
1. Mix together all the ingredients for the shaved vegetable slaw and season to taste.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic and thyme until smooth.
3. Spread each mushroom generously with the butter mixture and place under a hot grill. Cook until the mushrooms are tender.
4. Toast the buns until lightly golden.
5. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add a little rapeseed oil to the pan and then fry the halloumi slices until golden brown on either side. Remove to a plate, keep warm and set aside.
6. Spread the red-onion marmalade generously on each of the bun bases, top with the mushrooms, halloumi slices, slaw, rocket leaves, sprouts and avocado.
7. Top with burger bun tops and serve.

Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers

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Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Pork Sausage & Fennel Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Time: 1 hour 10 mins Serves: 4

For the burgers:
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground black peppercorns
1 tsp chilli flakes
Olive oil
1 clove garlic
550g fennel pork sausages
15g parsley, finely chopped
Zest of ½ a lemon

For the baby potatoes:
500g waxy baby potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried oregano
50g Parmesan

For the lemon and Parmesan mayonnaise:
100g mayonnaise
Zest of ½ a lemon
25g Parmesan, finely grated

To serve:
4 ciabatta rolls, toasted
100g smoked scamorza cheese, sliced
100g jarred roasted peppers, drained and thinly sliced
50g rocket leaves
A few basil leaves, to garnish

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
2. Place a small pan over a medium-high heat and add the fennel seeds, black pepper and chilli flakes. Dry toast them for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant, then add the olive oil and garlic to the hot pan and cook for a further minute.
3. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and allow to cool slightly.
4. Once cool, add in the sausage meat, parsley and lemon zest and mix everything together really well — doing this with your hands makes this much easier!
5. When thoroughly mixed, shape into 10cm patties and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. For the potatoes, place into a large pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, drain and set aside to steam for 10 minutes.
7. Place the potatoes on a large baking tray and mix with the olive oil and oregano. Season well and roast for 25 minutes.
8. Place a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of oil. Once hot, add the sausage patties and cook for 5 minutes each side until cooked through and golden brown. Add a slice of the smoked scamorza cheese and allow to melt, cooking for a further minute or 2.
9. To assemble, mix the mayonnaise with the lemon zest and 25g of Parmesan and spread on the top and bottom of each toasted bun. Top each bottom half with a cheese-covered sausage patty, then garnish with the sliced peppers, rocket and basil leaves.
10. Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss with the Parmesan. Then serve with the sausage burgers.

Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers

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Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Sticky Hoisin Duck Burgers. Picture: Donal Skehan

Time: 45 mins Serves: 2

Ingredients
½ Silverhill free-range organic crispy aromatic duck
½ cucumber, finely sliced
½ carrot, julienne peeled
3 spring onions, finely sliced
A good handful of coriander leaves
2 large free-range eggs, fried
2 brioche burger buns, toasted

For the sauce:
1 tbsp dark-brown sugar
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp five-spice powder
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 and add the duck to cook for 20-25 minutes until crispy. Remove, allow to cool slightly and shred the meat.
2. Place the ingredients for the sauce in a large saucepan and bring to a steady simmer over a medium-high heat.
3. Add the duck to the saucepan and mix through until completely coated.
4. Toss together the cucumber, carrot, spring onions and half the coriander in a small bowl.
5. Build your burger by adding the spring onion mixture to each bun base, half the duck mixture to each one, and finishing with a fried egg and a garnish of coriander.



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