What gave you the idea to put bananas in your burgers?
That’s what Anne asked after she figured out the mystery to what was in her mouth. The truth is I don’t really know what deviant brain cell in my head concocted the idea. I know I was looking at a half-eaten banana in the fridge and a lowly slice of pineapple when the notion came to me. I am sure others have had the same sight lines in their lives … but that most of those people would have a chorus of dissenting brain cells that would quickly drown out that renegade thought. I can’t quite tell you why that filter didn’t kick in, but I’m really glad I listened to that one innovative cell.
It was Friday after work, my buddies had bailed on “beer night,” and I was left with a strong craving for burgers and beer. It had been a long week and, though I was tired, the craving remained. While the ground beef defrosted in my microwave, I stared into my fridge that was mostly bare except for some remnants of lettuce, half a banana, and bit of pineapple. The wheels starting turning and, before you know you it, I said what the hell. The recipe came together very quickly after that and it turned out so well that I had to recreate it again very quickly and share it with everyone.
Now before you think I’m daft, this is a recipe that will appeal to anyone that thinks ‘sweet’ in the form of pineapple is a good thing on, say, a pizza. Yes, if you like Hawaiian pizza or some form thereof, you’re going to love these burgers. The flavours of the banana are subtle. There is some sweetness which everyone is going to taste — beyond that, they’re going to be hard pressed to discern actual banana, but it is there and it is working … and it works really really well. The chilli sauce in the burger rounds out the sweetness, gives a tiny bit of warmth and negates the need for any barbecue sauce — really, this is an outside-in burger. And finally, a quarter teaspoon of curry powder gives the final twist in bringing all the ingredients together. You won’t taste the curry powder as much as you’ll taste the effect of it. Let’s just call it all yummy….
You might ask why I choose 1¼ pounds (600g) for the recipe vs. an even pound or half-kilo? It’s because the larger quantity produces six 1/4-pound patties or four 5oz burgers. It really depends on your preferred serving size and how many people you’re feeding. Also, in terms of a tip, make sure the beef is well-chilled and straight from fridge as you quickly assemble it — this will prevent both food borne illness and help ensure the burger keeps its shape.
You could serve these burgers naked, wrapped on just a leaf of lettuce, or, as I’ve done, on a sesame bun. The only dressing these amazingly flavourful burgers got was a tablespoon of my green tomato ketchup. If you don’t have something like this, a mango chutney or even a mango salsa would be stupendous as well.
Enjoy and a very happy Canada Day to you all.
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes
Tropical Thai Burgers
- 1¼ pounds (600g) lean ground chuck or sirloin, well-chilled
→ 15% fat
- 1/2 ripe banana, halved (lengthwise) and lightly chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh pineapple, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
→ substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons sweet Thai chilli sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- Preheat your grill to about 400ºF.
- Prepare your buns (butter and grill them if you like) and top them with leaf lettuce and your chosen condiment (e.g. green ketchup)
- Meanwhile, chop and prepare all the ingredients and add them to the meat.
- Using a kitchen scale (if you have one) weigh out 4-5 ounce portions of the meat mixture, shaping each patty in the palm of your hand and squeeze till they are uniform. Place each patty on a small square of waxed paper to allow easy handling and transfer to the barbecue grill.
Dimple the middle of the slider patty with your thumb. This will ensure an even cooking and so that your burger doesn’t ‘puff’ up.
- Spray the grill with oil and then gently place the burgers on the grill, removing the waxed paper as you do so. Grill for 2½ minutes then, optionally, give them a quarter turn if you want nice grill marks.
After 5 minutes, flip burgers and cook for another 4½-5 minutes.
- Remove from grill and let stand a minute before serving.