Welcome to Wellington on a Plate. Well, that was the plan but, of course, the biggest culinary event in the Southern Hemisphere, that was to take place over the month of August, has been put on hold while New Zealand is in lockdown level 4.
For Burger and Cocktail Wellington, organisers will be working with the industry about when these may be able to restart.
Burger Wellington takes place over two weeks. Last year 242 different burgers were available and, in just 20 days, 279,000 burgers were consumed.
While you won't be able to visit the participating restaurants right now, you may be inspired to create your own winning burger at home.
What transforms a simple beef burger patty and a bun into a memorable burger? In my book it's often the sauce. I make mine American-style, simply by combining 1 cup of good-quality mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp ketchup, 2 Tbsp American mustard, a two-finger pinch each of garlic powder and onion powder, 1 finely chopped gherkin, 2 tsp of gherkin brine and a good shake of white pepper. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Here are three great burgers you can easily whip up at home.
California Chicken Burgers
You can use chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs for this juicy burger.
Ready in 20 mins
About 400g skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless thighs
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
8 rashers streaky bacon
4 ciabatta buns, cut in half horizontally
4 Tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
4 Tbsp pesto
Flesh of 1 just-ripe avocado, sliced
A large handful of baby spinach leaves
Preheat a heavy-based frying pan or hotplate over medium-high heat.
Place chicken pieces on a board and use a sharp knife to carefully slice into 8 thinner pieces. Place pieces between 2 sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to flatten them further. Drizzle with half of the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining oil over high heat in the frying pan or hotplate and fry the chicken until firm and cooked through (about 3-5 minutes each side depending on thickness). Push to one side of the pan, then fry the bacon until cooked. While the bacon is cooking, lightly toast the buns under a hot grill.
To build your burgers, spread a little mayo on each bun base. Top with layers of pesto, chicken, bacon, avocado and spinach. Finish with the bun tops.
Crispy Mini Fish Burgers
Crunchy panko-crumbed fish, shredded red cabbage and a limey mayo in a tender bun. So simple and so good.
Ready in 20 mins
¼ cup flour (you can use GF flour)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko crumbs
About 400g boneless, skinless white fish fillets
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to cook
8-10 slider buns or 6 baps
1 spring onion, shredded
2 cups very finely shredded red cabbage
¼ cup good-quality mayonnaise mixed with 2 Tbsp lime juice
¼ cup coriander leaves
½ long green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
Black sesame seeds
1 lime, cut into wedges
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a large, flat bowl. Place egg in a second bowl and panko crumbs in a third bowl.
Cut fish fillets into pieces to fit in the buns. Take a piece of fish and place in the bowl with flour, turning to coat. Shake off excess flour then dip in egg to coat, then in panko crumbs to coat. Set aside on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining pieces of fish.
Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook fish over medium-high heat until golden and crisp and just cooked through (1-2 minutes each side, or a little longer for thicker fillets). Add more oil if the pan is dry when you turn the fish. Place the fish on to paper towels and gently pat to remove excess oil.
Serve fish in split buns with spring onion, red cabbage, lime mayo, coriander and chilli, if using. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a squeeze of lime juice.
Moroccan Lamb Burgers
Make sure you use fresh mince – defrosted frozen mince will retain too much moisture and won't bind well.
Ready in 25 mins
400g fresh lamb mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with 1 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp very finely chopped parsley leaves
4 tsp ras el hanout or Moroccan spice mix
A pinch of chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil, to cook
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly crushed
½ tsp salt
Pinch of white pepper
1½ cups neutral oil, e.g. grapeseed
¼ cup brine from a can of chickpeas
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
4-6 burger buns
2-3 tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
Salsa verde or pesto thinned with a little oil
A handful of rocket leaves
Mint leaves (optional)
To make the aioli, place all the ingredients in a tall jug. Sink a hand wand blender to the bottom of the jar and whizz until thick and creamy. Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To make the lamb patties, combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Using clean hands, mix thoroughly. Divide into 4-6 pieces, then flatten into patties. The patties can be prepared in advance and chilled, covered, for up to 24 hours.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan, swirling to coat pan. Fry patties over medium-high heat until well browned (about 3-4 minutes each side).
Serve in heated buns with tomato, onion, green sauce or thinned pesto, rocket, mint (if using) and smoky aioli.
Yvonne's picks ...
(California chicken burger)
Wither Hills Single Vineyard Benmorven Marlborough Chardonnay 2019 ($28)
Planted 21 years ago, this small-scale, north-facing site has been producing certified organic fruit since its conversion in 2009, and certified sensational chardonnay since ages ago. Crafted by winemaker Matt Large, it's a rich yet elegantly structured stonefruit-and-smoke-soaked chardonnay that oozes caramelised, toasty spices and buttered crumpet characters on the finish. Smooth, stylish and saturated with flavour, it's a champion with chicken.
(Crispy mini fish burgers)
Rock Ferry 3rd Rock Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($25)
This certified organic sauvignon blanc is carefully crafted from fruit grown in Rock Ferry's Corners and Orchard vineyards. One portion of the juice went into stainless steel and the other portion was hand-harvested, whole bunch pressed and fermented in an old 3800-litre oak cuve for a wild yeast ferment. The blend of these components absolutely roars with lemongrass, bruised basil, lime zest, hints of jalapeno, truckloads of tropicality and textural complexity for days. It's also beyond delicious with these crispy slider-burgers.
(Moroccan Lamb burgers)
Butterworth Estate Martinborough Layline Pinot Noir 2017 ($35)
If Martinborough pinot noir had a LinkedIn profile, I'm certain we'd have 1000 mutual connections. There's something about those ancient, river-gravel soils that inject seriously savoury characters into its pinot noir and it's a joy to drink with lamb. With fruit supplied by a clutch of local growers that's shepherded into the bottle by multi-degree science nut and winemaking wizard Martin Bell, best you pull up your socks, adjust your straps and prepare yourself for a cherry-saturated, spicy style with prickly tannins; and dusty, mineral-heavy textures to finish.