A burger along with a couple of sides and a beverage makes a meal. We’re vegetarian, considering vegan options, yet we don’t want to give up this traditional American fare.
Until now, it’s been a steady road to disappointment. This post deconstructs a home made burger. After eight years of trying, yesterday’s experiment reflects progress.
When Morningstar Farms began making soybean-based burgers and crumbles we were on board. They satisfied a desire for something to replace meat in recipes our mothers and grandmothers used to make. Things like hamburger patties, chili, meatloaf, taco filling and more. To gain control over what went into our food I began experimenting with home made veggie burgers beginning in 2012.
One of the first experiments was a recipe called “Morgan’s Veggie Patties” developed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. It was a tasty burger.
The recipe seemed challenged. There were too many ingredients: 21 of them. Next, ours is not a pantry where one can find artichokes. We’d have to make a special purchase to include them. Using an egg as a binder is common, but if we want a vegan recipe, we need something else. Finally, the mixing process resulted in a burger that fell apart on the skillet. The directions to saute all raw vegetables in olive oil missed what I consider to be a basic cooking process of seasoning as one proceeds. The recipe called for mixing dry seasonings with the egg, and then adding the mixture to the beans and vegetables mixture then stirring everything together. I tried different ingredients but gave up on this burger very quickly.
Yesterday I reviewed some new recipes and came up with a new burger that held up well on the frying pan and tasted good.
- Make a crock pot of lentils. I cooked mine in tomato juice.
- Make a batch of basmati rice.
- Drain and wash a 15-ounce can of organic black beans.
- Line up the remaining ingredients on the counter: cumin and paprika to taste, salt and pepper, one medium onion, one medium bell pepper, one stalk of celery, and two cloves of minced garlic. Vegetables should be uniformly small dice.
Separate 1-1/2 cups of the lentils from the cooking liquid, reserving the liquid. Use the liquid as a cooking medium for the vegetables in lieu of cooking oil, a half cup or so. Use enough so all of the liquid does not evaporate.
Season the vegetables with the cumin and paprika plus salt and pepper to taste. My goal on the seasonings was to keep it simple. Cook on high heat until they are translucent and set aside.
Place the black beans in a large bowl. Using a potato masher smash them all until they become a uniform paste. It’s okay to leave some of them whole yet I’d be concerned it would negatively impact the burger’s ability to hold together when cooking.
Add the cooked vegetables, 1-1/2 cup each of cooked rice and drained lentils, and mix thoroughly. You’ll notice there is no binder. Depending on future iterations of this recipe I might use bread crumbs if the burger doesn’t hold together. In this case, the sticky rice and vegetable mixture held things together adequately.
One could cover the bowl and put it in the ice box to firm things up. I didn’t this time.
With an ice cream scoop, spoon the burgers onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. It made nine burgers. Once the servings are scooped out, pat them down on top and finish forming them with a fork. The cookie sheet went into the freezer until the burgers were firm. After that I moved them into a zip top bag and stuck them back in the freezer.
To cook the burger, put a small pool of oil or a squirt of cooking spray on a frying pan and bring to medium high heat. Add the frozen burger. Do not touch the burger until the underside caramelizes. Gently flip it over with a spatula and cook until the second side is done. Serve immediately.
Taste and texture-wise, this simple recipe met expectations. If you have comments about how you make home made burgers, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I’m not finished tweaking this preparation.