Mushroom burgers, a guest blog from my pal Maddie

26 Feb

A couple of weeks ago, my pal Maddie told me about these amazing mushroom burgers she made for dinner one night.  Given that it is the Lenten season and I have been struggling to find creative non-seafood-and-non-meat-but-still-filling meals for Alex, I begged her for the recipe.  

We DownTownBrowns are vegetable eaters. Not exclusively, mind, but we love some “vegibals” and even our dogs eat them enthusiastically as treats and with meals. Some might say we’re coocoo for cauliflower (I included this joke b/c it sounded like a something my husband would say, and something I would roll my eyes over while wishing I wasn’t laughing.) As it goes then, we don’t mind experimenting with vegetables– hiding them in common dishes and using them to replace meat entirely in others. One of our more recent trials was in making mushroom burgers, and though you’ll see it was a matter of trial and error, they will definitely be a repeat at the DTB household for dinners to come.

The making of mushroom burgers was mildly contentious at the initial concept phase, b/c my husband makes an incredible (no, but seriously) burge

r shrouded in secrecy and deliciousness, that we aptly and originally call “Marty’s Famous Burgers.” A friend recently said that she would consider them as a potential “last meal,” in an unsolicited compliment to their greatness. But, because it’s winter and we only have a charcoal grill which tending in freezing weather makes miserable, he agreed to help me in the construction of an all vegibal indoor burger. This is the first time we’ve tried a multi-vegetable burger, and despite having success in just marinating and grilling large portobello caps (also really good), we decided to up the ante and try our hand at something more complex. The resulting pseudo-summer favorite was really surprising, and despite the errors of our learning curve, Mart and I were drop-jaw pleased with the flavor and even the texture (a huge deal for me) of the end product.

We sort of made this up on the fly, so your experimentation with different ingredients could certainly do no damage to the over all flavor profile. When it comes to putting vegetables in things, we sort of just blend up what we have in the fridge, and I wouldn’t hesitate to put anything in these as long as it was well pulsed: broccoli, various squashes or zucchs, eggplant, cauliflower…whatever. Ultimately the ratio of mushroom to other vegetables should be close to 1:1, or slightly more mushrooms if you prefer a denser hamburger-like mouth-feel The steps are below, and heeding my impatience as example, really do blend all of the vegetables separately.

Mushroom Burgers
4 servings

16oz mushrooms,white/button, portobello or other common variety
onions
bell peppersphoto-93
carrots
garlic cloves, to taste
OR other vegibals of your choice
fresh herbs
worcestershire sauce
soy sauce
1-2 eggs
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, other dry spices as you like them
parmesan cheese
bread crumbs
other burger accouterments: buns, cheese, condiments etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Pulse mushrooms into a small crumb, where they’re still dry individual pieces, but small like confetti bits–for some reason the only comparative visual I can think of would be if a cat chewed up an old pencil eraser, only to spit the pieces out afterward and what that would look like…so yeah, use your imagination and go for that texture.
  3. Pulse other vegibal in similar fashion, these could be more ubiquitous in blend, and even kind of wet…I then pour them through a strainer and squeeze much of the excess moisture out (not necessarily as dry as cat chewed erasers haha, but you get the idea).
  4. Throw herbs and garlic into any of the earlier veg blends.
  5. In a bowl combine all ground vegetables and dry spices.
  6. Follow with wet ingredients, several dashes of worchestershire, a Tbsp or so of soy sauce, or alternatively a red based bbq sauce
  7. Add one egg, and then a cup to a cup and a half of parmesan
  8. At this point eyeball how well everything is sticking together, if it’s still dry-ish to the touch and not holding together well add your second egg and blend…if your mix is particularly wet b/c of your vegetable choices, shake a little bread crumb in until things stick together better
  9. Form vegetable blend into patties and place on a sheet pan, don’t be too concerned if they seem overly wet (even when Marty and I made what was essentially a babyfood texture, they baked well)
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, and then touch the tops and sides to see if they’ve formed a “crust” when they have, gently flip them so and bake for another 10 and place cheese on top until melted
  11. Remove from oven and dress as you would a traditional burger

photo-94

If at any point your burgers seem to be getting too dry in the oven just flip them/remove them early, or alternatively leave them in longer if they’re too soft/wet in the middle…trust your instincts. Because each batch can be different due to preferred flavors and vegetables added, it’s really a “shoot from the hip” baking method. The luxury of making a vegetable based meal, is that baking really only serves to meld the flavors, and give you a textural tendency more like real hamburgers. You could make these burgers “rare,” or hell eat your baby food blend pre-bake, and not suffer from any ill-effects.

What’s more is that this recipe is entirely adaptable. Toss some ranch seasoning in at the beginning, pulse some sun dried tomatoes, and top with arugula and feta for a less traditional burger. To achieve a simple south-western style, add some chipotle or adobo seasoning, pulse in corn, jalepenos and black beans, and top with a spicy cheddar or queso fresco. The variations are essentially endless. One of the things we like best about vegetable heavy, or vegetable-centric meals like this one, is that they are so filling but don’t leave you with that, “blech, don’t look at me” sort of gross feeling. Enjoy your winter barbecue without the overfull bloat of a backyard grill-out, and consider how good these vegetable burgers are treating your guts.

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