When it comes to food, we often pay more attention to form than function. We broadly homogenize what we eat as meals depending on the time of day. There is not much that connects, say, a birthday dinner from one that involves eating pistachio ice cream straight from the tub.
Fortunately, mushing food together and frying it is a easy way of transcending the form/function dichotomy. There is perhaps no food like the patty that maintains its tastiness and its reputation, symbolizing forethought and craftsmanship, while allowing for consumption in forms ranging from hurried bites to sandwich luncheons to multi-course dinners.
There are a few basic principles to which the patty-maker would do well to attend. The patty (or burger, meatball, golden orb, etc.) generally constitutes some base (ground beef, pork, lamb, sausage fillings, lentils, or beans), a binding agent (eggs and a few spoons of flour) and some choice additives. As a teleological exercise, reflect on what purposes your patties will speak to: meatballs in pasta sauce, hamburger content, additions to a curry, or wherever your imagination thinks would be a good place to include some ball-shaped food. In turn, this will inform the flavour profile of your patty.
This past week, I made patties with ground beef, chopped sage, minced onion, garlic, turmeric, paprika, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, rolled oats, some flour and eggs. But really, knead in whatever you want—this is not prescriptive: Feel free to add sautéed onion and mushroom, shallot, etc. Then fry in a generous amount of coconut oil until cooked and dark golden brown.
Certainly, a quick curry sauce would’ve been a nice compliment for these meatballs, to be served with jasmine rice. But, my week was busy, and sandwiches are easy. Again, ask yourself questions about what form would best suit your food-jewels. For me, there’s nothing better than sandwich with slaw, mayonnaise, fresh tomato (maybe not in winter, though), some caramelized shallot and a very-runny fried egg. (The fried egg is delicious, but you will be drenched in egg goo if you put it in a burger/sandwich.)
These toppings should be straightforward enough that they can either be made without too much fuss, or in a big batch to dress your future sandwiches ad libitum. Don’t lie to yourself about making homemade mayonnaise either; the sweetness of the supermarket stuff is a great counterpoint to the acidity of the tomatoes, anyways. For the slaw, thinly julienne some cabbage – the red stuff looks nice – and sprinkle with too much salt and a few splashes of vinegar. Either let it sit, or massage with your hands until soft. You can figure out the rest.