Herb Greek Burgers – Biftekia

October 9, 2015

Greek burgers Biftekia
As you may know, my mom has greatly influenced my eating habits and taste, as most mothers, right?. She is very loyal to Greek cuisine and we pretty much ate only Greek food at home. Occasionally she would make what she called “American” food. One of those times she made “hamburgers”. Now for Greeks a piece of ground beef cooked on the grill without adding anything to it would be considered bland. “The beef needs to have herbs and spices added to it, otherwise what’s the point?” she would say (and still does). My mom could never understand the point of the hamburger: cooking a plain piece of meat and then loading it with ketchup, mustard and a bunch of other condiments. Why not just add things to the meat before you actually cook it? To make a long story short, my mom would make hamburgers, but in fact they were Greek patties that she then would put into a hamburger bun along with a bottle of ketchup and mustard on the table.

Years later I’ve come to appreciate a good juicy American burger but I also realized that those Greek patties did not need any condiments added to them, nor did they need to be disguised as a hamburger, all they needed was a squeeze of lemon because they were so tasty.

These Greek burgers are known as biftekia, they may be grilled or cooked in a pan. The meat is mixed with a variety of herbs mostly, and they contain a bit of egg and breadcrumbs, the result is a very tasty piece of meat.

The oregano and the other herbs that are added are all excellent sources of antioxidants that give a nutritional punch to your patty. They also reduce the levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), compounds that develop when meat is cooked at high temperatures and have been associated with certain types of cancer. By using dry herbs such as oregano and mint on the meat you can reduce the levels of these harmful compounds.

This recipe is very easy and I used my cast iron grill pan. These were delicious and juicy and we paired them with a simple tomato salad. Other classic combinations include boiled horta (greens) and tzatziki (Greek garlic yogurt dip) or any type of other green or salad. Make sure you let the meat sit for at least an hour to get all the flavors to meld.

Greek Burgers - Biftekia

Yield: 5

Greek Burgers - Biftekia

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (chuck)
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 3-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dry mint
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the beef in a bowl.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the beef and knead with your hands until all the ingredients are well mixed and blended with the meat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover the bowl and let the meat sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. Remove the beef 10 minutes before cooking. Form in 5 patties (these are made slightly smaller than a hamburger). Flatten them.
  5. Heat the grill pan, Place the patties and cook for about 4 minutes on each side.
  6. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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13 Comments

  • Reply Demetra October 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I love biftekia! (And I love your blog!) My mom would always serve in red sauce- brown the patties and then add the patties to tomato sauce/paste seasoned with cinnamon and then add quartered potatoes and simmer over low heat for about 30mins-then add peas at the very end. I cook like this now for my family! Who knows how or why she started doing this, but delicious!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 10, 2015 at 6:08 am

      Thanks Demetra! Sounds good! The sauce with the cinnamon reminds of soutzoukakia, and I like the peas added after.

      • Reply Anonymous October 12, 2015 at 11:55 pm

        Very true! Keep up the great work!!

  • Reply Amy October 10, 2015 at 12:32 am

    I agree with your mom Elena! It feels like such a wasted opportunity not adding these flavors at the start. I’ve had success adding a small amount of chopped frozen spinach or finely grated carrot too.

    Question, your narrative mentions a bit of egg, but I don’t see that in the ingredient list. Can an egg be added to the mix?

    Thank you so much for your blog Elena! You have had a huge impact on my cooking/eating habits!

    • Reply Helen Robles October 10, 2015 at 12:53 am

      I recently did this with lamb burger which made them just a little more Greek.

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 10, 2015 at 6:12 am

        My grandmother used to do all her biftekia with lamb too!

      • Reply Art October 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm

        My dad dispensed with the burger façade completely and served the ground lamb on a stick! Pretty much otherwise using Elena’s recipe.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 10, 2015 at 6:11 am

      Thanks Amy! Yes there is one egg, I’ve added it to the list of ingredients.

      Love the spinach-carrot idea!

  • Reply Cheryl October 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Wow a girl from the other side of the world (Australia) makes almost this exact same mix with either beef or lamb! The only difference is that I use a small amount of stale bread softened with a little milk in the mix instead of the breadcrumbs. Oh and if I use lamb, I dispense with the egg – must be the extra bit of fat in the meat, I guess – but they hold together fine. Yum

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 24, 2015 at 5:47 am

      Thanks for sharing Cheryl! Yes bread is normally used, breadcrumbs save time for me and I have ones from Crete made from barley which I use.

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  • Reply Rebecca February 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Are the oregano and parsley dried or fresh?

    • Reply Elena February 19, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Rebecca
      The oregano is dry and parsley is fresh. Will add that clarification on the recipe.

      Thanks

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