Hugh Wallace was a utility forward mostly playing lock or number 8 in the 1980-1990s, and past coach of the original VRC women’s squad. Today he is manager and assistant coach for the new generation VRC women’s squad.
This recipe was one of Hugh’s first recipes he loved when he first came to Canada 25+ years ago. He saw a similar idea of combining beef and pork with a vegetable slurry and over the years he was evolved it to become his own. Now the much salivated-over recipe is being shared with the VRC community to bring some joy to your small grounds and self isolating BBQ.
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses no breadcrumbs or eggs as binders, and has vegetables mixed in for extra nutrients and flavour. It’s the perfect BBQ treat for ruggers and family members.
The Ratio is 2:1 lean to fat. Start with lean ground beef and ground lamb. Then add in some minced game (Elk, Bison, Moose, ??) this iteration has Elk. The lamb brings the flavor and the fat, and the elk brings the gamey flavor that makes the burger rich and delicious.
The Slurry is what adds flavour layers to the burger – gives it depth. Although this recipe looks Spicy and the Slurry will be hot – it doesn’t eat spicy in the burger. You will want 500 ml to 3 kg of meat – basically a 1:6 ratio. What I use is; 2 onions, 2 jalapenos (include seeds), one habanero pepper, a couple of bell peppers, one bulb of garlic. Hint, add the garlic in later so as not to burn.
The vegetables should be cooked soft not to caramelize – you want the vegetables so stay juicy and soften to be blended. Note, if you have liquid in the pan, keep on the heat to reduce – we want to add flavour not liquid.
Not all of the vegetables will fit into the cup –but do include the garlic chunks. The Chipotles get added in into the blending cup – not in the pan to cook.
If there is leftover vegetables – put them back on to the cooktop and caramelize to go on top of the burger if you wish
Blending the Slurry
Hugh suggests what his mother affectionally called a “whizzer” aka a hand blender to blend your slurry. However a bullet or a blender could also work. You are looking for a thick slush when you blend your vegetables and once incorporated it is ready for the meat.
Let your slurry cool for 5-10 minutes so it does not cook your meat.
Time to get messy
Hugh says the only way to properly combine the slurry and the meat is by hand. So remember to take off your watch and rings because this is the messy bit – wash your hands. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper and then combine the meat and slurry with a kneading type motion.
Test a bit!
Hugh’s daughter and fellow rugger Joscelyn Wallace insists on this quality control step. The purpose of this step is to test your seasoning – make sure it has enough salt and pepper/ chipotle in it. Adjust as required.
Hugh is and always was a forward at heart thus small burgers do not exist in his world. Each burger is about 1/3- 1/2 a pound of meat. This recipe should yield 12 burgers, so keep that in mind.
Hugh uses a ring mold for his burgers – this mold is 3-3/4” D x 1-3/4” D. He packs them FULL – and this leaves it a consistent size for cooking.
Yields 12 burgers (aka 4 props)
1 kg Ground Lamb
1 kg Lean Ground Beef
1 kg Ground Elk (Bison/ moose also work)
2 jalapeno (seeds in)
1 Poblano pepper (remove seeds)
2 chipotle (from the can) + 4 tbs of juice
3 bell peppers (remove seeds)
2 onions (red or white)
6 cloves of Garlic
- Bring the meat out of the fridge to come up to room temperature
- Rough chop peppers and onions
- Sautee veggies on medium heat – no salt or pepper at this stage
- Chop garlic into 8ths
- Once the peppers have cooked down a bit add the garlic to the pan and 1/8 of a cup of water
- Once vegetables are cooked down and the liquid has been absorbed take the “slurry” off of the heat
- Put your slurry in a 500 ml cup and Add 2 canned chipotles and some of the juice. Then blend together with a “whizzer”
- Add the 3 types of meat together and add salt and pepper to the meat.
- Combine the Slurry and the meat together by hand – until it is fully combined
- Test a bit!
- Put your pan back on the heat and take a bit of the burger to test your seasoning once happy continue on
- Use a ring mold to produce 12 burger patties
- Refrigerate until ready to grill
- Set your BBQ to 375 degrees
- Place Burgers on BBQ and cook until done
- To really Jazz it up Hugh suggests to BBQ Canadian bacon and melt cheese onto the burgers
Serve and enjoy!!
All photos by Jos Wallace