Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

Cheesy beefburgers with harissa

The reason I love these is that they are easy to make with very little faff, and the flavour of the harissa is warming without being too hot, so the baby can eat them too. I don't really know where the recipe came from, we just magicked it up out of our own heads one day, so those of you who have your own tried-and-tested burger recipes just keep doing what you're doing. I don't add breadcrumbs because I can't be bothered making them, likewise egg (actually the combination of raw egg and raw meat makes me feel a bit gruey) so I leave it out and just stick with the beef.

Here goes.

A pack of good-quality lean minced beef, you know, the normal size, whatever that is. Say 500g or so? That should give you four or five good-sized burgers.

One medium onion, finely, finely, finely chopped.

One clove of garlic, but not essential.

A good hunk of cheese, roughly grated. The amount depends how cheesy you want your burgers, how strong the cheese and how much you happen to have in the fridge. I have used half a normal-sized pack in my time.

A teaspoon or so of harissa. I prefer rose harissa, as it isn't so much of a paste, so that's what I use. You can get it in delis and in the Sainsbury's fancy-pants section. It's about £3 but it lasts for ages and a spoonful of it in a bowl of yoghurt or creme fraiche is lovely as a dip for tortilla chips or whatever if people swing by unexpectedly. With regards to the burger, the kind of harissa you buy in the tube would be fine too.

A spritz of olive oil for frying.

Gently, always gently, fry the onion and garlic in oil or butter in a frying pan. When it is transparent, remove from heat and leave to cool briefly while you mix the minced meat and the cheese and harissa, before adding the onions to the mixture. Really get your hands in about it and give it a good squidge.

Then roll into balls and flatten, to whatever size of burger you fancy, and then fry them to as cooked as you wish, roughly five minutes each side (but I like 'em a bit rarer, to be honest.) The cheese keeps them together and it goes crispy and oozes out of the burger as it cooks. We tend to have them in toasted pitta breads, so we make them roughly to fit, with sweet potato chips.

Smaller ones are lovely in mini pittas, and little children love making them and eating them in my experience. I often make double the amounts so I can freeze these between layers of greaseproof paper and then just defrost what I need.

Babybear feasted on a good lump of burger this evening, hence the recipe. I gave her a couple of well-cooked fist-sized bits and she was gorgeous with them. Bit some off and then sucked and slurped at it in a most ignoble manner. When it started to break up she jammed as much as she could into her mouth, so really very little was wasted. Especially when her father scooped up any leftovers and ate them himself, the good boy.

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