This is the recipe for a Bloody Mary burger and it comes from Jan Braai’s fabulous new cookbook ‘The Democratic Republic of Braai’. For anyone not living in South Africa, braai means barbecue here and it’s pretty much a national sport. It’s Jan’s mission to unite all South Africans around a fire to celebrate our nation and our heritage. And of course to eat delicious food cooked over the flames.
This is Jan’s third braai cookbook and I have to agree with him when he says it’s his best. Although packed with simple recipes using easily accessible ingredients, the book is creative and has a distinct edge. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s the most exciting cookbook published this year (apart from mine of course).
I’m still a newbie when it comes to a braai and I kind of skipped some of the basics and went straight to the higher grade stuff because I fortuitously landed up with a Big Green Egg. This is more of an ‘outdoor cooking phenomenon’ than a braai, although you can definitely just do a regular braai on it too. This cookbook makes me want to leap outside and fire up my egg and start grilling.
What I love the most about the book is that – and please don’t shoot me down in flames Jan, but the recipes can easily be adapted to cook in your home oven or on a stovetop. I mean this as the biggest compliment about the flavour combinations the ideas, the simplicity and the exciting nature of what is going on between these pages. I know it is sub-optimal to choose to cook any of these recipes indoors, but the book is so good that you could.
This is an everyday accessible cookbook with a huge dose of flare and I have enjoyed not only drooling over the incredible pictures – beautifully styled by Brita du Plessis and shot by Matthys van Lill, but also giggled my way through Jan’s witty writing. Having been lucky enough to spend some time with this legend (I was his sidekick judging a recent braai competition in Upington), he writes just exactly how you find him in person.
The recipes in this book spread across the whole spectrum from meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, bread, and desserts. It includes every possible cooking method that can be employed when cooking over a fire – including smoking angelfish over rooibos tea. He poaches quince, does a pork chop carbonara and presents three outstanding curry recipes as well as how to make the rotis to go with those. His Greek-style braaibrodjies (grilled cheese) are genius, and the Mule chicken burger is up next on my to-do list. I know this book is going to get a lot of attention from me because I’m planning on doing much more outdoor entertaining this summer.
Braai books are generally aimed at men, because for some weird reason, it’s mainly the men that do the cooking outdoors, but The Democratic Republic of Braai will appeal to men and women alike. Basically, it will appeal to anyone who loves good food and likes to eat well.
The Bloody Mary burger caught my eye because who doesn’t want the delicious umami flavours of a savoury cocktail slapped onto a juicy piece of meat and sandwiched between a sesame bun. It’s delicious. I made the recipe exactly as per the book (although I may have added a little more Worcestershire sauce), but I did pop on another addition. Crispy bacon strips. It’s how I prefer to do a Bloody Mary. I also think you could add vodka to the sauce because vodka and tomato are a marriage made in food heaven.
Bloody Mary Burger – recipe by Jan Braai.
Millions of people around the world enjoy the combination of ingredients that makes up the Bloody Mary cocktail. As you know, every single one of those ingredients also goes well with a pure 100% beef patty that was braaied on the coals of a wood fire. This brings us to our next magic trick; we’re making a hot sauce based on the classic cocktail and serving it with braaied burgers.
WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)
The bloody Mary burger with steak patties
- 1 tot olive oil 25ml
- 1 red onion chopped
- 1 red pepper sliced or chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tin tomato cocktail juice 200 ml
- 1/2 tot Worcestershire sauce 1 Tbsp
- 1/2 tot Tabasco sauce 1Tbsp
- 1 lemon juice
- salt and black pepper
- 1 kg beef steak mince
- 4 hamburger rolls
- fresh lettuce leaves
- 4 celery sticks for garnishing
- Heat the oil in your fireproof pan and fry the onion and red pepper until soft. Add the paprika and fry for another minute.
- Add the tomato cocktail juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and juice of the lemon, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- 100% beef mince or steak mince patties do not need any binding agents like egg or bread crumbs. You just need to braai them like a pro. Start by shaping the mince into 4 evenly-sized patties with your hands. If you’re doing this ahead of time, put them on a flat even surface like a plate and keep them in the fridge until you braai them. Get the thickness equal all around – we’re not making meatballs remember, and they should not look oval with a hump in the middle when you look at them from the side.
- Braai the patties with care. The only way the patties will break apart is if you break them apart. This happens if they stick to the grid, sink into the grid or you turn them all the time – so don’t let any of these things happen. Put the patties down very gently on the grid and do not press on them.
- The patties are 100% steak so braai them exactly as you would a whole steak of the same size. Braai them on very high heat to seal them quickly before they have the chance to ‘sink’ into the grid. They should spend about 8 to 10 minutes in total over the coals. Once on each side during that time is enough, and twice on each side is the maximum. Don’t fiddle with the patties to check whether they are sticking. As the meat starts to cook it will release fat and juices and usually loosen itself from the grid.
- During the final stages of the braai, toast the insides of the buttered rolls. Assemble the burger, starting with the lettuce on the roll at the bottom followed by the patty.
- Divide the sauce among the 4 burgers. Add some extra freshly ground pepper and the top half of the roll. Garnish by skewering the burgers with a celery stick, which will not only look cool but also hold it all together. Serve with additional Tabasco sauce. Cheers!