3rd December, 2018


I am preparing to cook solely on the barbecue and gas hob as we head into a major kitchen renovation this summer. Fortunately, cooking dinner on the barbecue is something we do quite regularly anyway. Burgers, in particular, are the ideal pick-and-mix style dinner that appeals to the whole family.

My daughter likes to keep it simple with a patty, cheese and a bun, with her greens on the side; my son takes the “more fillings the better” approach, while I am not a fan of white fluffy buns, preferring to wrap my patty and fillings in a crispy lettuce leaf (I know, not technically a burger). Each to their own and this is the perfect meal to allow for this.

There is a knack to making a good burger patty. Plenty of moisture is crucial to prevent the patty from drying out while cooking. This can come in part from the fat content in the mince. I like to use a combination of lean venison mince with plumper pork mince. Or use all beef mince, opting for premium mince over a leaner grind.

To add extra moisture (and goodness), I add some vegetables to bulk out the mix. Often this is a grated carrot or, in the recipe below, I take beetroot and double its use in the meal – as a patty ingredient then pickle the extra cooked beetroot for slices as a burger filling. The subtly sweet flavour and silky texture the beetroot contributes to the burgers is marvellous.


A nod of acknowledgement to food writing legend Lauraine Jacobs for the beetroot addition in these burgers. This recipe is loosely based on the Venison Sliders from her new cookbook, Always Delicious
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes


  • 1 bunch beetroot approximately 1kg 
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 300 g venison lamb or beef mince
  • 300 g pork mince
  • 2 gherkins finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds or ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground oats grind rolled oats in a blender/spice grinder
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • To serve: burger buns plus a selection of lettuce sliced cheese, sliced tomato, grated carrot, mayonnaise, pesto, chutney, etc.


  • Pre-cook the beetroot, this can be done ahead of time. Top and tail the beetroot (don't throw away the beet greens, these can be sautéed similar to silverbeet and used in a filo pie).
  • Place the whole beetroot into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 40-50 minutes until a knife glides into the flesh. Cool the beetroot in the cooking liquid. 
  • Once the beetroot is cool, rub off the skins, reserving the cooking liquid. Grate one to two of the cooked beetroot to make one cup (lightly packed) grated beetroot – for the burger patties.
  • Cut the remaining beetroot into 5mm thick slices. Layer into a jar, add the balsamic vinegar and top up with the cooking liquid. Add a generous pinch of salt, cover, and store in the fridge for up to five days. 
  • To make the burger patties combine the grated beetroot, mince, gherkin, caraway and egg in a bowl. Mix until just combined – don't over-mix or the meat can toughen. Season well, make a small patty and cook in a frying pan to check seasoning, and adjust if needed. Form the remaining mixture into 8-10 patties. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. 
  • Preheat a barbecue grill and lightly oil. Cook patties until golden on both sides and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve the burgers platter-style with the prepared beetroot slices, buns and extra fillings of choice.  


*Tip: If using a combination of mince, I find it more economic to buy a larger quantity from the butcher or supermarket and freeze into smaller portions to thaw as needed. 

Join the Conversation

  1. Hello Nicola,
    You may like to check with your butcher, but I thought that premium beef mince had less fat than the cheaper regular beef mince.
    Regards, Angela

    1. Hi Angela, my understanding is that premium mince is made for the cuts that would have more marbled fat rather than gristle in the cheaper cuts. It may be somewhat lower in fat but the fat it has is juicier – so to speak 😉

      1. Thanks for your reply Nicola. Yes, that makes sense.
        Regards, Angela

  2. Six years ago we renovated our kitchen and set up what I called our Bedouin camp in the lounge at the front of the house. My husband put a large sheet of plywood on the carpet and we used a table as our bench. We had an electric wok , single solid electric element, electric frypan and microwave. We also moved the fridge freezer in there on another piece of plywood and I rescued the pantry and plate cupboard from the old kitchen. The pantry went in the hallway nearby. I was able to leave the oven in the old space for a month while they worked around it . I also cooked the odd cake in my neighbours oven.
    Dishes were washed in the laundry tub in a bowl. I even created 6 Shortcut recipes for Taste magazine over the two months of winter, (hence no BBQing.)
    It is doable though I only had the two of us to cook for. Good luck

    1. Thanks Sue, I imagine it is going to be quite an interesting summer. Luckily we have the sunroom for eating in if it rains, and my rather resourceful builder husband (who is also building the new kitchen) has rigged up a temporary kitchen to use from an old kitchen bench he had lying around – not quite sure where, but it suddenly appeared one day! I am sure I will be knocking on our friendly neighbours door to bake a few things too. At the moment I feel the reward of a new kitchen at the end is going to be worth the juggle, but will see how I feel by the end of summer 😉

  3. Hi Nic! Just revisiting your book for food inspirations. It’s nice! Make sure H builds you a solar oven before beginning renovations, they are fun to play with. We made biscuits in ours last week (it took two Southland’s sunny days but great success). Merry Christmas to you lovely folk. Xt

    1. Hi Trish, lovely to hear from you. Ha, will have to look into a solar oven, I wonder how long it will take to bake bread 😉
      Happy holidays to you all too, I hope the South coast is treating you nicely xx

      1. The South Coast is a lovely place to be Nic. We are enjoying our new lifestyle immensely. We got a sunflair solar oven a few years back.
        We cook so many things in it, even in Southland when a summer day can include a lightening storm… Xt

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