08 | Mar | 18

Richard Johnson

THE Burger Of 2018?

What makes the best burger? Don’t get us started. Oh, okay then – if you insist. Judging by Flying Cows, the winner of Best Burger at last year’s British Street Food Awards, it’s traditional grass-fed beef, British and, well, Dexter. But in the 2018 Awards there are already a host of naysayers. Some favouring venison (check out Bruadair’s venison, cheese and beetroot burger at the Scottish Street Food Awards). Some favouring chicken. And some favouring Wagyu.

Wagyu is known for beautiful marbling which renders at low temperatures to give outstanding texture and flavour. ‘Wagyu’ is actually a generic name meaning Wa (Japanese) and Gyu (beef). The animals are massaged and their diet augmented with beer. A surprise then to find Suzi and Paul from Yorkshire’s Pickled Porker giving Wagyu a go.

“We came across Yorkshire Wagyu some years back” says Suzi, “when it wasn’t as well known in this country. Yorkshire and proud, we have always been interested in sourcing unusual and outstanding Yorkshire produce to showcase on our menus, so we arranged a trip to meet Wagyu farmer Shep to learn more about what set his meat apart from the rest.”

The pair were impressed by the high welfare standards at Wagyu Farms. “Plus” says Suzi, “we learned that Shep’s animals are bred for up to 30 months — much longer than other beef cattle.” It gives the meat deeper flavour, and it’s why they’re bring their product to the Northern heats of the 2018 British Street Food Awards at Leeds Dock in June. They are worrying the opposition.

Libertine Burger only use 28-day dry aged organic beef – a classic mix of brisket, flank and chuck patties. But The Patty Freaks are pimping their patties for the Central heats at Bustler in Derby. “From pickled cabbage and gingersnap gravy to caramel waffles and maple syrup there really is no limits to what we will experiment with to create the best burgers people have ever tried.”

Dan Batchelor of Flying Cows is keeping his own counsel. “I’d definitely say the best beef comes from grass feed cattle. I am biased toward Dexter as that’s what we do on our farm. Also with the Dexter, it doesn’t benefit from being hung after 21 days – so we don’t need to over hang it. But I love Wagyu. I very nearly started putting Wagyu fat through my burgers. We’ll have to see how we get on at the Awards this year. Game on!”