Happy with the Greek food we had at Mano’s Greek Taverna in Tagaytay, I decided to make biftekia, or Greek style grilled beef patties, at home. Ground beef, bread soaked in red wine, fresh oregano, onion and garlic went into my beef patties.
Biftekia is a burger, basically, so I served them with French fries and a simple salad, and it was a great Father’s Day lunch. No need to try and squeeze into jam-packed restaurants.
Oh, the difference that red wine makes! Amazing, I tell you! Of course, there are a lot of other versions of biftekia and some don’t contain any wine. Some soak the bread in milk; others, in water. I’ve made burgers with milk-soaked bread but it’s not half as good as the ones made with red wine. Something to try, definitely. Might prove habit-forming. :)
And for those of you who worry about the alcohol — alcohol evaporates during cooking. What you’re really after when you add red wine to the food is the rich and robust flavor that remains after the alcohol has disappeared into the air.
- 4 slices of day-old bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 to 3/4 c. of semi-sweet or dry red wine
1 kg. of finely ground beef (a little fat will make the burgers very juicy)
2 medium-sized onions
4 cloves of garlic
4 sprigs of fresh oregano
4 tbsps. of olive oil
2 heaping tsps. of salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Place the torn bread in a wide dish. Pour the red wine over and stir to make sure that every piece is soaked. Set aside.
Peel and roughly chop the onions and garlic. Strip the oregano leaves off the stalks; discard the stalks. Place them all together on the chopping board.
Chop finely. If you use a food processor, make sure that you do NOT liquefy the onions. The fine chop will give the burgers a nice balance in texture.
Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Squeeze out the excess wine from the bread; add to the beef. Throw in the onion, garlic and oregano. Crack an egg into the bowl. Pour in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix lightly but thoroughly (by hand is best). Do NOT overwork the meat.
Form into patties and chill for about 30 minutes before grilling or broiling (see tips on making juicy burgers).
When the burgers are done, allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Cooking time (duration): 20 minutes excluding chilling time
Number of servings (yield): 8 to 10 burgers
Meal type: lunch / supper