We all love these, especially all the fiddling around with so many small and different bowls in the middle of the table, and being able to choose our own fillings. Kids might even like the onions and gherkins, when they’re choosing for themselves. You can decide if you want to make the meat patties bigger or smaller, depending on who you will be serving. Your mince will need some fat in it so that it stays moist and quite juicy after cooking. Make sure not to overcook the patties and dry them out — they should be just nicely charred here and there for flavour. This might seem like a lot of fuss but it is all work done beforehand and, hopefully, there might even be someone who will take over the fire and cooking part for you. I usually serve these with pan-fried chips or just a handful of potato chips.


Pink Sauce

  • 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) best-quality tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • about 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 780 g(1 lb 11 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 slices gouda cheese (some may like gorgonzola)
  • 2 juicy tomatoes, sliced
  • about 50 g(about 2 oz) tender but crisp inner butter lettuce leaves
  • about 4 gherkins (pickled cucumbers), thinly sliced diagonally
  • 6 sesame buns, halved


For the pink sauce, put the tomato sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and paprika in a serving bowl and season with some salt and pepper. Mix with a fork until smooth.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the onions. Fry over low heat until they are golden and sticky, but take care that they don’t burn. Add the thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt and continue frying the onions, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes until they get a little crisp.

Meanwhile, put the beef, parsley and egg in a bowl and season with some salt and black pepper. Mix well with your hands and then shape into six large flat patties. They should be about 10 cm(4 inches) in diameter and not more than 2 cm (¾ inch) thick, so squeeze them between your palms and shape them with your fingers. Preheat a barbecue or chargrill plate and brush it lightly with oil.

Barbecue the patties over a medium–high flame until they are nicely browned and charred in a couple of places. Make sure they don’t get smoked and don’t fry them slowly or they will just become hard. They should be cooked through but moist and juicy inside, and should ooze a little cooked meat juice onto your bun. Cover the patties with a slice of cheese and let it just melt (if it seems necessary, cover it loosely with a square of foil).

Put the tomatoes, lettuce, gherkins and warm onions out on the table in separate bowls. Heat the bun halves on the barbecue for a couple of seconds and then put the patties inside and serve immediately, letting everyone make their own by adding sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, gherkins and onions as they like. Serve with chips, baked potatoes or just a green salad.

We saved our chip packets and then we’d sit them on a baking tray and slow-roast them in the oven to shrink them down to miniatures, turning out their corners carefully while they were still hot to keep their shapes. We loved to glue pins on the back and wear them as brooches.