Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Burger Imposter

Recipe: Dana's "Totally OK" Veggie Burgers


I have an extreme hatred (too strong?) for meat-free products masquerading around as meat dishes. For instance, Upton's Natural's, a Chicago-based company, has made a small fortune packaging things called "Ground Beef-Style Seitan" and taco salads and buffalo chik'n wraps sold with a dapper mustachioed man on the packaging encouraging all the hipster vegans out there to purchase it.... (I used a runon sentance to highlight the extend of my anger.) Perhaps part of my anger is directed at the fact that many of these prodcuts contain soy, which I cannot digest without reacting like that one scene in Bridesmaids--you know the one I'm talking about. (Although a closer look at Upton's products suggests that their products contain hardly any soy, while other brands definitely do.)

Another concern is the hipster doofuses, a term used by my mother and coined by Seinfeld, that purchase the products, as I do not want to be associated with that kind of person. The new hipster is the antihipster after all.

And lastly, if you're a vegetarian you should eat more vegetables not tofu or wheat gluten that's pretending to be something you gave up. Vegetarians should celebrate vegetables, not mourn their losses. Plus most of that food is so proccessed, you hardly recognize where it came from. Take a look at the ingredient list on your soy tacquito or buffalo chik'n wrap and see if you can find all the ingredients in your cupboard. If you can't make it yourself (or with a trained cook in your kitchen) I fundamentally disagree with eating it.

That said, I'm not trying to knock Upton's, they do a pretty good job with their products, and their ingredient list is short and free of perservatives. There are a lot of companys that don't do this kind of cooking well, frozen chik'n cubes and soy mayonaise does not a chicken salad make, and it can ruin the eating experience for the consumer.

On the other hand, the veggie burger is perhaps the one exception to my no meat substitute rule. The veggie burger is, afterall, a staple of vegetarian cooking. Whole Foods makes a couple great ones, that are made from beans and grains, and they can actually be a filling and healthy meal. Plus, beans and grains aren't really meat subsitutes so I can be sure that they are soy-free.

I still perfer to make them myself though. This recipe, while it has a long ingredient list, is actually pretty tasty. I still want to play with the texture (less on the mush, more on the crunch), but the flavors are there. Maybe it isn't the perfect subsitute for that juicy, chargrilled, piece of hamburger that you could be eating, but for a veggie burger it ain't bad.

Dana's "Totally OK" Veggie Burger

1 cup barley
4 cups veg stock
1 cup kidney beans, dried
1 red pepper, small diced
1/2 red onion, small diced
2 carrots, peeled and small diced
1/2 cup shittake mushrooms, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup almond flour toasted
2 TBS hot sauce
1 TBS Worchestshire
1 TBS Smoked Paprika
1 TBS dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper To taste

1. Heat a sauce pot over high heat. Add barley and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring the barley around constantly. Add vegetable stock and reduce heat. Cook until barley is tender and most of the stock has been absorbed.
2. Place kidney beans in a pot and add water until the water is 2 inches above the beans. Cook over medium heat until beans are extremely tender, about one hour.
3. Saute onions, peppers, carrots, and garlic in a small pan with a little bit of oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Heat same pan with some oil and cook mushrooms over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated out. Add to carrots, peppers, and onions.
5. Once beans and barely have finished cooking place in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place in a big bowl and mix with cooked veggies and seasoning. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Preheat oven to 400. Parchment and oil a baking pan. Form burgers into 1/3 pound 3 inches in diameter patties. You should make about 6. If you have a mold use that.
7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy with a toasted bun, some pickles, ketchup, mustard, and a beer.

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