Shropshire Star

Burger-licious: Our search for the Holy Grail of a perfect patty

“Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.” Okay, we know of course that here, in his magnificent Pulp Fiction role, Samuel L. Jackson was being a tad sarcastic – but at Weekend Towers we’ve always been happy to take this judgment as gospel.

Beefy Boys Oklahoma Boy

‘Tis true, dear readers; there are few culinary pleasures in life as divine as a decent dirty burger, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a full-blooded carnivore.

Next month will see the final of the 2024 National Burger Awards, and with this we couldn’t help but start to salivate. It’s time, we figured, to share our joy of all things bun-and-patty with you, our loyal audience, and hopefully start a January barbecue revolution this weekend (the weather can do many things, but it ain’t getting between us and our quarterpounders).

As we celebrate all things burger, we’re going to take a fun look right here at the history of one of food’s most marvellous creations, get tips from a local wizard on how to prepare the perfect patty, and the learned and well-travelled sages of Team Weekend are going to share their best burger experiences, including their most off-the-wall finds.

Let’s get cooking...


Beefy Boys Double Burger Stack

Well, for a kick-off, the origin of the burger is somewhat disputed. Most experts and enthusiasts are in agreement that either the US or Germany (that’s right – Hamburg) was the first country where two slices of bread and a ground beef patty were combined into a ‘hamburger sandwich’ and sold.

However, the origin of the burger patty may go back much further than this.

The Apicius cookbook – a collection of ancient Roman recipes that may date to the early fourth century – details a preparation of beef called ‘Isicia Omentata’. Served as a baked patty in which beef is mixed with pine kernels, black and green peppercorns, and white wine, Isicia Omentata may indeed be the earliest precursor to the hamburger. There you go – something else the Romans may have done for us...

During the first half of the 19th century, most European emigrants to the Americas embarked from Hamburg, and New York City – The Big Apple itself – was their most common destination.

Early American preparations of minced beef were made to fit the tastes of European immigrants, and emulate the cuisine of Hamburg and the world they had left behind.

In the late 19th century, the Hamburg steak became popular on the menus of many port restaurants in New York. This might consist of a fried patty of chopped beef, eggs, onions, and seasoning, or it might be lightly salted and often smoked, and served raw in a dish along with onions and breadcrumbs.

The evolved term ‘hamburger steak’ was replaced by ‘hamburger’ by 1930, which has in turn of course since been rather displaced by the shorter, simpler term, ‘burger’.

During the 20th century, burgers as we know them truly came into being, and became a mainstay of the concept of ‘fast food’. The burger, however, is not to be dismissed as a dish absent of finesse or artistry, with the appetite for gourmet, artisan and high-quality burgers currently riding at a high. These days, burgers are a wonderfully decadent canvas for chefs to use to experiment with ingredients, showcase their skill, and indulge in the pure pleasure of flavour. For the rest of us, this golden age of burger creativity is to be grabbed with both hands, and enjoyed ferociously.


Beefy Boys Pastrami Boy

So, in this day and age when the burger has broken the shackles of its humble origins, and cooks across the land have served up creations featuring zebra, kangaroo, and at least a gazillion types of cheese, what constitutes perfection?

This of course will always be a matter of opinion, and it would take far more pages than our paper possesses to share the thoughts of the pros on every type of burger in existence. Yet stripping this back to the ideal beef patty, one of the region’s finest has been happy to share his secrets for the Holy Grail of burger deliciousness.

Four crusading troubadours committed to delivering burger fans the epitome of dirty, gluttonous decadence, The Beefy Boys have taken the national scene by storm.

With one of their restaurants based in Shrewsbury, The Beefy Boys are flying the burger flag for the region, and were recognised with multiple accolades at last year’s National Burger Awards – including Burger of the Year.

Murf, one of the Beefy Boys and Burger Chef of the Year 2023 winner, has given the following advice on how to make the best beef patty at home.

“Always use fresh mince,” he said. “The fresher the better. Think about the fat-to-meat ratio of your mince. We recommend having a 20 per cent fat to 80 per cent meat ratio to give the best possible flavour and juiciness. And treat your beef patty like you were cooking a steak. Only season the outside of the meat!”

Simple tips perhaps, but given the success of The Beefy Boys, they are certainly the way forward for any aspiring burger artiste.

For those who are happy to let the pros carry on doing the hard work, The Beefy Boys are currently offering a Kids Eat Free deal from 3-6.30pm, Monday to Friday. For every adult burger or fries plus a side ordered, you will be entitled to one free kids meal from the kids menu. Happy days indeed!

For more info, and a menu that will make your mouth water, check out

Heather Large loves a decadent chicken burger and found America offers unusual alternatives


One of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted was inspired by one of my favourite pub meals – Hunter’s Chicken.

It was also probably one of the biggest and when it was put down on the table in front of me, I was very glad I had decided to skip the fries.

In the middle of a brioche bun was a large and chunky piece of southern fried chicken burger that was topped with a pile of smoky, pulled barbecue chicken. On top of that were strips of smoky bacon and melted cheese. To finish, it had been covered in tasty barbecue sauce.

Like all good burgers, it was incredibly messy to eat but it tasted absolutely delicious. If you ever find yourself in Huby, North Yorkshire, I can definitely recommend The Mended Drum.

The Dirty Barbie also sounded amazing – an 8oz beef burger topped with shredded brisket that has been smoked over oak logs, topped with a homemade espresso bourbon barbecue sauce and house pickled pink onions.

If you fancy something more adventurous, the menu also featured a burger named Peanut Butter Jelly Time which consisted of a beef burger, American cheese, peanut butter, chilli jam, smoked bacon, onions and mayo.


While on holiday in California, my family and I visited a restaurant near Santa Barbara with a vast burger menu, which included alligator, wild boar and elk. Although I don’t think these would be classed as weird, they were certainly unusual. When we go to a burger joint in Britain, beef and chicken are more than likely the main meat options.

I also remember a breakfast-style burger with pancakes instead of bread bun, a pork patty, bacon and a choice of Nutella spread or maple syrup. Nutella and meat sounds like a very odd combination but it might work. I certainly wasn’t going to find out.

Dan Morris nominates a black and blue combo and is converted to the bhaji burger bandwagon


One that will always remain firmly lodged in my memory as a beautiful bastion of dirty burgerness was served up to me at The Kings Arms, Eccleshall.

The Kings’ Black and Blue Burger featured a beautifully succulent beef patty from an award-winning butcher based next door to the pub, topped liberally with black pudding, Shropshire blue cheese and peppercorn sauce.

It was magnificent. The combined rich flavour of the black pudding and blue cheese complemented the wonderful patty perfectly, and the peppercorn sauce was just the touch to give this bad boy a kick without overpowering it.

This is not a burger that was an oversized showpiece for the eyes, but rather just a well thought-out treat for the taste buds. For a while I was chowing down on these on at least a monthly basis, and as rumour has it that a new version of this old fave of mine is now available, I’ll have to get the old habit kicked back into gear.


Big boss Caroline tipped me off recently about an onion bhaji and mango chutney burger she had sampled that was out of this world, and out of impatience to give this curiosity a whirl, I purchased the ingredients to make my own.

I’m not normally an onion bhaji fan, but will happily partake of anything sandwiched between a brioche bun. My bhaji burger, served with crisp lettuce, mint raita, and lashings of the requisite mango chutney, was absolutely divine (If I do say so myself).

Many a restaurant has jumped on board the bhaji burger bandwagon, and this one is a superb choice for anyone of a vegetarian persuasion.

However, as gaffer Caroline quickly pointed out when I regaled her with the tale of my bhaji burger success, this one can be devilishly pimped up with the addition of a beef patty or a chicken burger. Or, dare we say it, both.

In general, the bhaji patty could make a fun alternative to just plain old onions on your burger if you’re looking for a bit of a spice fix.

Andy Richardson favours farm Wagyu, while a roast beef dinner burger in a Yorkshire pudding is a novelty


I’m keeping it local when it comes to my favourite burger. Because for all the delights that come from such purveyors of filth as Shrewsbury’s Beefy Boys, Birmingham’s OPM, or the scores of bistros, pubs, and fast-food joints touting remarkable patties, I’ve yet to discover anyone who outdoes a farm in Newport.

You can’t book a table at Wyndford Wagyu. It’s a beef farm, near the Shropshire and Staffordshire border, that doesn’t have a table for four. You can, however, place an online order and sample one of the finest burgers in the UK. Wyndford’s tireless efforts within the Wagyu industry have enabled it to set the highest standards for rearing the finest Wagyu cattle, and to produce ultra-premium, grade marbled beef.

And that means it is to burgers what Usain Bolt was to the 100m sprint – for my money, the best.


No one pimps burgers like The Beefy Boys do. From their delicious restaurant in Shropshire, they offer such creations as the Pizza Boy – marinara sauce, red onion, Swiss cheese and breaded mozzarella – or, even better, the Hell Boy 2.0, with fresh habanero, hotter than hell ghost chilli pepper sauce, Jack cheese and a pair of latex gloves. You’re not supposed to eat those, of course.

The PBJ Boy is a work of beauty, with American cheese, bacon, bacon jam, chipotle peanut butter, and Swiss cheese, while the Dirty Boy, with its beef dripping onions and double American cheese, will satisfy all but the most outrageous cravings.

And yet The Beefy Boys don’t come close to National Burger Awards winner, Hill’s, of Brecon, and their stupdenous creations. Using Alex Gooch bread and Meat Matters beef, they create Britain’s most explicit burgers.

Try the chips and gravy cheeseburger, with skin on fries and house gravy, or the roast beef dinner burger, in a Yorkshire pudding bun.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.