Have you ever wondered? You know… What does human meat taste like? Putting these recipes together has encouraged me to ponder this question. You know it was going to come up. Well, thanks to Chef Jim Thomlinson of London Mess, we now have an interesting approximation.
Jim and his conspirator, Emma Thomas of Miss Cakehead, partnered with FOX UK to create a publicity event for Season Five of The Walking Dead. They did their research — all book learning, I’m sure — into what cannibals have documented through the years what they thought human flesh tasted like. Jim’s recipe used pork, veal, and beef bone marrow. Fans of the show came to a pop-up grill in East London called Terminus Tavern and were served these burgers with some bacon ketchup on the side.
As I live nowhere near London, I decided I would attempt to make the burgers myself and share the fun. They seemed appropriate for the Death card and this episode’s discussion of zombies.
Makes 8 burger patties
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1 lb beef marrow bones (or 1/4 lb bacon, minced)
salt and pepper, to taste
- Large bowl
- Meat grinder (optional)
- Frying pan or skillet
- If you have beef marrow bones, we want to use just the marrow in the bones. It is very easy to push the fatty marrow out through the bones.
- Mash the marrow to break it up. Set aside. Freeze the bones for later; they will be perfect for making beef stock/bone broth in the future.
- If you don’t have marrow bones, then bacon can be a nice substitute which adds its own familiar flavor. Chop the bacon and set it aside.
- If you have a meat grinder, grind up the pound of pork, then the beef marrow (or bacon), then the veal. Mix all of the ground meat together and run it all through the grinder again.
- If you do not have your own grinder, then buy ground pork and ground veal, and mix these together with the mashed bone marrow (or bacon) in a large bowl.
- Add salt and pepper and mix well to incorporate everything together.
- Divide the meat into about 8 patties.
- Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into your frying pan or skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers, about 3 minutes.
- Cook the patties until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the patties and cook on the second side, another 5 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, ground meat needs to reach 160°F for safety.
- Serve immediately with your favorite fixins.
Right off the bat you are probably thinking, “Ewww… beef marrow?!” That’s assuming you got past “Ewww… human burgers?!” Bone marrow is actually quite delicious roasted and spread on toast. I’ve had it at The Salty Sow and it is divine. This is really little more than a rich fat that adds a velvety quality to the burgers. Ask your butcher if they can get you some. My local gourmet store sold some from Rumba Meats.
If you can’t find marrow bones or soup bones at your local grocer, or if you just can’t get past the “bone marrow” factor, I think some strips of bacon would suffice. Bacon is mostly fat and the smoke and saltiness would go well. Just don’t cook the bacon before using it. Chop or grind it right up raw with the rest of the meat.
So… what does it taste like? I don’t have Hannibal Lecter’s palate, but I quite enjoyed them. They were nothing like beef burgers, of course. The pork and veal were a nice complement to each other. The marrow brought it all together in a nice solid patty. I would definitely make these again.
Pair this with a Zombie cocktail and you will have the perfect meal for your watch party for The Walking Dead or iZombie. Hell, I’ll probably serve them again when NBC’s Hannibal premieres June 4th, 2015.