Beef Wellington and Turkey Christmas Burgers
One would be hard-pressed to find two dishes higher on any Christmas menu than roast turkey with trimmings and a classic beef wellington, but how can we incorporate these familiar festive flavours into some live-fire fun without taking the shine off the big day? We have a strict no roast dinners policy in my household for the entire month of December, which means we’re gagging for it come the 25th, so I developed these two burger recipes to deliver all those evocative flavours and give us a roasty fix without actually serving up a roast.
The idea with these is to provide some inspiration for your own experimentation. I consider these recipes to be somewhat modular, so please feel free to take as few or as many elements as you please and play around with your own ideas. I’m aware that the notion of spending a couple of hours in the kitchen just for one small jar of mayonnaise or ketchup may not appeal to some but, if you’re somebody who likes pottering, maybe having a few drinks of an afternoon while things bubble and sizzle away, you might enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
However much (or little!) attention you pay to the recipes themselves, we wish you a very merry Christmas, a happy new year and many delicious burgers to come.
Beef Wellington Burger
Joshua Weissman’s Hokkaido milk bun recipe. We split the dough into eight rather than six.
Minced beef – see recipe for weights
We used the following recipe as a base and tweaked to our tastes. We also halved the ingredients as we didn’t need this much!
One handful of spinach per burger
Ready-rolled puff pastry cut into a single round per burger
Two slices per burger
- Prepare your mushroom ketchup in advance. This will keep for at least a week in the fridge, so can be done days ahead of time if needed.
- When you’re ready to make your burgers, the first thing to do is to weigh out your mince balls. We minced our own blend of chuck and ribeye, but any mince with at least 20% fat content will do the trick. Weigh out balls of between 110g and 150g, depending on your appetite and the size of your buns. In the video, they’re 150g and ended up slightly bigger than the radius of the bun.
- Preheat your barbecue with a plancha, griddle or flat top* in place, going for the hottest setting. We ran the Traeger Ranger at 230c, which gets the griddle plate searing hot. If you’re using charcoal, place the hot coals directly beneath your griddle.
- As your barbecue preheats, cook the rounds of puff pastry. We did ours on a Traeger Ironwood 885, but they can obviously be done in the oven indoors. If you’re committed to cooking everything on a single barbecue, cook them indirect (no heat beneath them) at 180c for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. When they are cooked, whack the heat up on your grill as in step 3. You can cook the pastry between two trays to keep them flat rather than puffy, if desired. The pastry will stay crispy even once it has cooled, so don’t worry about keeping them warm.
- Slice your buns and toast. It doesn’t matter that these will cool before assembly, as they will stay crispy and maintain a great deal of structural integrity. You’re going to need it!
- After the buns are toasted, put a little cooking fat on your griddle. We use cold-pressed rapeseed oil as it has an adequately high smoking point, but beef dripping works incredibly well here too.
- Brown your Parma ham and crisp up the fat a little. It will stay pliable while hot but will crisp as it cools, and you can always reheat it just before assembly if you wish. Once you have enough for the number of burgers you’re making, set aside for later.
- Wilt your spinach down until it is soft, dark and has lost as much moisture as possible. You will need a handful of raw spinach per burger, which can be wilted all in one go. Set this aside too, then shut the lid and allow your grill and griddle to come back to temperature. While you wait, cut a roughly 20-25cm square piece of baking parchment.
- When you’re certain your griddle is as hot as possible, season one side of your patty balls with salt. Do not use pepper at this stage as it will burn. Place your patty balls seasoned side down on the griddle then, one at a time, place the square of baking parchment on top, place your smashing utensil** on top and press down as hard and as evenly as you can, using both hands for extra purchase if needs be. You should end up with nice squashed round burger patties. Do not fear if they tear or are not perfectly round. You can manipulate them as they cook and, once they’re in the bun, nobody will be any the wiser. Close the lid and allow to cook for between 90 seconds and 3 minutes, depending on how hot your griddle can get. I find that gas barbecues generally require a little longer to get the same level of crust, but you can experiment with your own equipment (and eat plenty of burgers as you play!).
- Once cooked on one side, season the exposed, unseasoned side and, with confident movements, scoop the patties up with a spatula/flipper and turn them over. You should be presented with a beautiful, dark, caramelised crust and crispy, lacy edges.
- As the second side browns, begin to assemble your burger. We went for a layer of mushroom ketchup on each bun, then the other components in the following order: one patty, puff pastry, wilted spinach, second patty, Parma ham.
- Depending on the size of your griddle, you may have to make these one or two at a time, so let people tuck in as and when they’re ready, as these are best eaten fresh rather than keeping the patties warm while you cook the rest. Smashed patties are not designed to be pink in the middle, so they will be cooked all the way through, but the payoff in outer crust makes it so worth that small sacrifice.
*If you do not have a plancha, griddle or flat top, simple smash your patties between two sheets of baking parchment before cooking and place them straight on the grates. Attempting to smash them directly on the grill will only push the mince through! Shop Griddles
**We absolutely love the Traeger Large Cut Meat & Fish Spatula for this.
Turkey & Trimmings Burger
Joshua Weissman’s Hokkaido milk bun recipe. We split the dough into eight rather than six.
Turkey escalopes/turkey breast steaks, plain flour, egg, panko breadcrumbs, beef dripping
Sausage & Stuffing Patty
We mixed 400g sausagemeat with half a pack of sage & onion stuffing mix made to the instructions on the packaging, then formed into patties roughly 1.5cm thick and with a slightly wider radius than the bun. Use less stuffing to make the patties easier to work with.
Root Vegetable Mayonnaise
Two maris piper potatoes, one parsnip, one carrot, 200g mayonnaise, goose/duck fat
We used a readymade jarred cranberry sauce
Four rashers of smoked streaky bacon per burger
100g trimmed brussels sprouts, cider vinegar, water, granulated sugar, salt, aromatics of choice
- This recipe requires a fair amount of work ahead of time, but I believe it to be worth it, especially if you enjoy prep work and cooking indoors (if you don’t, feel free to just use everything pre-prepared and skip certain elements).
- Make your root vegetable mayonnaise – see instructions at the bottom of this recipe.
- To pickle your sprouts, blanch them in boiling water for 90 seconds then plunge into iced water to stop the cooking, allow to drain and slice as thinly as possible, before setting to one side.
- Get the jar you plan to use for the pickling, then fill halfway with cider vinegar and top up with tap water. Place this mixture into a saucepan with a few hefty pinches each of salt and sugar, as well as any aromatics you may wish to use (peppercorns, chilli flakes, juniper berries etc. Bring this mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once boiled, turn off the heat and place your sliced sprouts into the jar. Pour in your hot pickling liquid, rest the lid on top (but do not screw on) and leave to one side to cool completely. They’ll be ready to use once cooled and will keep in the fridge for at least a fortnight. These are pretty sharp by themselves, but they bring a lovely acidity to other things.
- Mix the sausagemeat with the stuffing (prepared according to the packaging instructions) and form into patties about 1.5cm thick and with a radius slightly larger than that of the bun.
- Place your turkey escalopes, one or two at a time, between two sheets of greaseproof paper/baking parchment and beat with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin until they are no more than 0.5cm thick. You don’t want to batter them so much that they fall apart, but give them a fair old beating to get them nice and evenly thin. The turkey we breaded and fried in the video was, as Joe says, “obnoxiously large” compared to the size of the bun, so you should trim your beaten escalopes to the desired size. By all means go as big as you wish!
- Prepare three bowls or baking trays with flour in one, whisked eggs in another and panko breadcrumbs in the final one. Dredge the turkey first in the flour, then coat with the egg, and finally cover with the breadcrumbs, pressing as many into the meat as possible. For extra texture, return the turkey to the egg before coating in breadcrumbs a second time. A handy tip here is to use one hand for the dry stages (flour and breadcrumbs) and the other hand for the wet stage (the egg). It will never be a clean job, but you can make it easier for yourself.
- Once all your components are prepared and you’re ready to start cooking, preheat your barbecue to a nice hot temperature, somewhere between 220c and 250c. We used the Weber GBS Griddle in the Weber Genesis II SP-335, but any pan that can go over direct heat and hold some oil will do.
- Slice and toast your buns and set aside for later.
- Heat up some beef dripping in your pan and then place the sausage and stuffing patty/s to get nice and crusty on one side, before flipping and doing the same the other side. If your ratio of meat to stuffing goes heavily in favour of sausagemeat, you can do this straight on the grill while you cook your turkey in the pan but, in the video, we had a high stuffing content and it would have been too crumbly and prone to burning to cook straight on the grill bars. You’re shooting for an internal temperature of at least 74c on these patties, which will take about three to four minutes per side depending on how hot you are cooking. Once they’re cooked, move to one side and keep warm.
- Place your breaded turkey in the pan with the dripping and leave to go nice and golden and crispy, while cooking the bacon alongside. On the Genesis, we had space to cook the bacon on the grates while the turkey was in the griddle, but you will know your equipment and hopefully be able to work something out. As before, an internal temperature of 74c will ensure the turkey is safe to eat, though pulling it off at around 70c and allowing it to carry over to 74c will make for a juicier final product.
- When you have flipped your turkey onto the other side, begin to assemble your burgers. We opted for a thick spread of root vegetable mayonnaise on the bottom, then the turkey, then a slice of American cheese, then the sausage and stuffing patty, then another slice of American cheese, then the pickled sprouts, then four rashers of bacon, followed by a thick spread of cranberry sauce on the top bun.
- As with the beef wellington burgers, you may have to serve these as and when they’re ready rather than all at once. These are also best enjoyed fresh, but be careful not to burn your mouth on the turkey, as the fried coating stays pretty hot!
Root Vegetable Mayonnaise
- Preheat your oven to 220c (200c fan).
- Peel all your vegetables, chop your potatoes into the usual roast potato shape and chop the parsnip and the carrot into the usual sticks that one might expect to see on a roast.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook the potatoes for 8-10 minutes, until tender when pierced but not in danger of falling apart. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside to steam and dry off.
- Place a roasting dish in the oven with more goose or duck fat than you think is reasonable (I just dump the whole jar in).
- Parboil your parsnips and carrots for around three minutes then drain and set aside.
- Put a pinch of salt and a splash of oil on your potatoes then toss them in their colander or pan until the edges are roughed up and textured. Tip the potatoes, the parsnips and the carrots into the roasting dish of preheated goose/duck fat and move them around until coated in the fat. Roast as you usually would, ensuring a nice golden-brown crust on the potato and parsnip. The carrot just needs to be cooked through and starting to colour on the outside, but be careful not to let any of it burn. You will likely need to remove the three ingredients from the oven at different stages.
- Once all three elements are cooked and cooled a little, you need to separate the fluffy inside of the potato from the crispy outer edges. I did this by putting them whole through a ricer, which squishes the inners into the bowl below and allows you to scoop the crust from the inside (the same can be done with the parsnip, but into a separate bowl). Make sure you save this crust. If you don’t have a ricer, slice the crispy browned edges off with a knife and then mash the fluffer inner in a bowl. It’s important to keep the potato separate to the other two elements at this stage.
- Reduce the temperature of your oven to 120c (100c fan) and chop the saved crusty outers of the potatoes and parsnip into as fine a state as you can. They will still have some moisture in them at this stage, so you can do more chopping later. Put them in the oven on a baking tray in an even layer and allow to dehydrate until they’re nice and dry. When they’re much drier, chop them again until they’re like dust. Set aside for later.
- Using a blender, make a purée from the roast carrots and the fluffy inner of the parsnip. Whizz them up with some chicken stock or water and some butter until a nice, smooth consistency is attained. Separately mash the potato with a bit of butter, before stirring everything together with a spoon. Do not put your potato in a blender or food processer as this will release far too much starch and turn it into a gluey mess.
- Take your 200g of mayonnaise in a bowl and mix through half the purée and half the dehydrated powder, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste at this stage and then mix in however much of the puree and powder you want in order to suit your preferences. Remember that this is going to be going with many other flavours, so you probably want the flavours in the mayo to be overemphasised as a standalone condiment in order that they assert themselves enough in the final dish. A pinch of MSG will further elevate the savoury notes here, but is by no means necessary.
- If your sauce is very thick, you can let it down by stirring in some water. The emulsification is already stable in the mayonnaise, so a bit of stirring should be all it takes to incorporate the water and get the consistency to your liking.
- This mayonnaise will keep in the fridge for up to a week, but to be honest it probably won’t last long as it is quite remarkably delicious. Another perfect use for it is as a dipping sauce for roast potatoes. There are a lot of steps to this condiment, and you might question if it’s worth it, but if you enjoy the process then I reckon the end result will make it all worthwhile.