SPICY MEAT PATTIES
For a couple of years now I have been making spiced patties on the grill, out of varying mixtures of ground beef, lamb and pork. Sometimes I shape them like little blimps, and sometimes I make patties under a quarter pound. I disdain the word ‘slider’, which implies to me Wimpy gladly gobbling today, tomorrow and yesterday piles of gristly burgers without chewing. There is a low budget decadence in America that is depressing and gross, a gluttony rooted not in flavour but sensation, the sensation of fat oozing out of the pores, of cheese stuffed, crumbled and grated onto every square inch of a plate. And then there is the slow food movement, which rejoices in both time and a seemingly unlimited budget. Tradition should not cost a lot! And there is nothing more universal or traditional than ground meat spiced and grilled. So yesterday, before leaving for work, I took a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork out of the freezer, anticipating a solsticial cook out. The plan was to make a charcoal fire, grill the patties, and then feed wood to the coals for a few hours so that when it was finally dark the boys could burn marshmallows and make ghastly smores. This would be my offering to the titular spirits of the yard and heavens.
After a humbling run (it was over 85 degrees), I started the charcoal and commenced to put together the spiced patties. And this time I remembered the measurements (more or less) and was most satisfied with the result. The patties were soft and juicy and redolent of cilantro, mint and garlic. With a spicy sauce of chilies, fish sauce, sugar, mint, cilantro and sugar they were amazing. I made mine as patties, but they could have been meatballs or blimps or torpedoes. And had they been, why then, they would have fit nicely in a piece of lettuce with some bean threads.
The night was particularly warm and clear and no neighbors called the police or fire department to report my fire. And the smores required no emergency room stomach pumping because, after all, boys have cast iron stomachs.
Spicy Meat Patties
2 lbs ground beef and pork or lamb, any combination
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3T finely chopped garlic
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped mint
¼ t pepper
2 eggs lightly beaten
Mix everything thoroughly. I mean, squish it between your fingers, kneed it. Don’t of course overwork it for god’s sake, but make sure the meat is thoroughly mixed. Then form patties or whatever shaped thing you want, and grill it over a hot fire until done. These must not be rare or medium rare or even pink, but you don’t want David Hockney pucks either!
A good sauce to accompany them:
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped mint
3 Thai chilies minced
1 clove garlic minced
3T fish sauce
Mix together. If it’s too dry add more liquid.
You can spoon this on the patties, or wrap the cooked meat in a big lettuce leaf, with bean sprouts and bean thread noodles, and dip it in the sauce.