21 Jun, 2020 @ 12:00
3 mins read

RECIPE: Burger guru Yianni Papoutsis reveals how to cook the perfect patty Spanish-style

Hamburger Complete Close Up

HOLED up in Granada following a coronavirus travel nightmare (see Olive Press Issue 340, pg 4), Yianni Papoutsis, 44, founder of MEATliquor in the UK and his partner Sophie O’Hara, 26, have turned lockdown into a culinary showdown dubbed Nice.olation. Continuing their series of quarantine recipes for the Olive Press, burger guru Yianni reveals his perfect patty recipe you can whip up with a few staple ingredients.

Hamburguesas Españoles

Hamburger Complete Close Up
SUCCULENT: Burger guru Yianni’s perfect patty ©theOlivePress

Years ago there used to be a smokey little tapas joint on Granada’s infamous Calle el Vera. Nowadays this strip of late night haunts has been much tamed; the punks, anarchist graffiti and squat bars are mostly a thing of the past – though, on the flip side, there is now a really good ice cream parlour at the Albaicin end. 

On a street with an obscene amount of establishments all competing over who can serve up the best and/or biggest free tapa, there was one which always stood out. I forget its name, but that’s not important. What I do remember is the mouthwatering aroma of grilled meat wafting through Calle el Vera’s ever-present fug of cannabis smoke, drawing me into the bar like a Bisto kid. It turned out to be the best hamburguesa I’ve eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot.


Every bar in the street offers some form of hamburguesa on the menu and it has always been a hotly contested category. The Spanish version of this American treat is a strange beast in the hamburger world, and possibly the only one actually made with ham. 

Every kitchen has a different recipe; some might use hamburguesa meat from a butcher and season it themselves (your best option), others will buy it from the supermarket but if this is your only recourse, buy the one with the shortest list of ingredients. Any mince will do but forget preformed hamburguesa patties – fresh or frozen, they will only disappoint. 

Hamburger Cooking
SEASONING: A health bit of salt and pepper is essential ©theOlivePress

Besides, making your own is way easier than the ready-to-cook variety. Speaking from bitter experience, it’s impossible to get the bloody plastic film off of the buggers without ripping them to shreds so just steer clear. 

The Tierno de Cabra cheese is our own addition.  It’s a soft, mild and melty goats cheese that tastes a bit like baby bell and it’s become our go-to sandwich cheese. You can find it in any Spanish supermarket, sliced or in wedges. 

The burgers in this recipe were cooked in a frying pan –  it’s June in Andalucia, so of course it’s tanking down outside! But they are equally good, if not better, char-grilled on a barbecue over hot coals. 

Leave out whatever toppings you don’t like or don’t have if you want but the balance of flavours and textures you get from using them all is estupendo – give it a try!


Hamburher Salad
KEEP IT SIMPLE: A bit of lettuce and tomato will do the job ©theOlivePress
  • 1 soft, squishy burger bun, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise, for frying the buns
  • 110 g hamburguesa meat, or any other mince
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 squirt of Ketchup
  • 1 squirt of mayonnaise
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Pickle slices if desired
  • 1 handful of lettuce, shredded (the crunchier the better)
  • 1 slice of tomato
  • 1 slice of melty cheese, ideally Tierno de Cabra


Hamburger In Pan
UNORTHODOX: In this burger recipe your buns and cheese WILL be browned ©theOlivePress

Step 1

Spread mayonnaise across the cut side of the buns and fry them gently. (The oil in the mayonnaise stops it from sticking and the sugars help it to brown)

Step 2

When the buns are golden brown remove from the pan. Add a squirt of mayo and ketchup to the cooked side of the bottom bun then top with onion, pickle (if using), lettuce, tomato and set aside on a square of tin foil.

Step 3

Take the minced meat and roll it between your very clean hands into a ball. Put the ball between two pieces of baking paper or cling film, wash your hands then press down with the bottom of a frying pan (or other convenient flat bottomed object) until you have a burger patty half an inch thick and bigger than the burger bun (it will shrink during cooking).

Hamburger Cat
IRRESISTIBLE: Eat up quickly or your burger will be up for grabs ©theOlivePress

Step 4

Whack the heat up to medium-high until the oil is sizzling, add the patty and immediately season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Step 5

Flip the patty over when it has developed a crisp golden crust and quickly place the slice of cheese on top so it melts while the other side of the burger is cooking.  

Step 6

Gently place the top bun over the cheese for it to warm through. Don’t worry about the cheese melting onto the pan and browning, it adds an extra level of deliciousness.

Step 7

When the burger is cooked through, use a spatula to lift it out of the pan and onto the pre-dressed base. Wrap in foil for at least a few minutes which will amalgamate the flavours into a burger rather than a hot meat sandwich.

Enjoy with a cold beer whilst smearing sauce all over your face with a fistful of useless, glossy, branded napkins for the true tapas bar experience.

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