Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ultimate Veggie Burger 2.0

Well, I started this week's lunches with a veggie burger, so I figured I might as well end it the same way. It's not just any old veggie burger though, it's completely homemade and it's my second attempt to create the Ultimate Veggie Burger. And like I said before, while I also really love other types of veggie burgers made with nuts or smashed up beans & veggies, and stuff like that, my goal with this particular burger is to make a veggie burger that is the best copy of an actual beef burger possible. Something that you would take to a cookout and the omnivores wouldn't even suspect that your burger was vegan, and if you told them, then they would all be dying to try it and they would actually LIKE it. That's what I'm shooting for. This was my second attempt. I made some progress, but also suffered a small setback, which I think is easily correctable. So, here's the story.

I started out again just using the recipe from over at Bunnyfoot's blog, which is based on a Bryanna Clark Grogan recipe. These were really good the first time I made them. Even if I just made these straight from the recipe from now on, I would be happy with them, and they would be my favorite veggie burgers. There's no comparison to storebought stuff, these are so much better. But this time, I wanted to alter the recipe a little bit and try to make it taste "meatier". The first thing that came to mind was Portobello Mushrooms. I mean, just grilling an entire Portobello Mushroom Cap on the grill and then slapping it on a bun tastes an awful lot like meat to most people. So I took one huge Portobello Mushroom Cap and ground it up in the food processor until it was ground pretty fine. I basically want it to disappear into the texture of the veggie burger, because that was already perfect, and just contribute to the meaty taste. I added 1/2 cup of this to the burger recipe. I also chopped up a yellow onion, pretty fine, and added 1/2 cup of that to the mix also.

I purchased a cheap plastic thing at the store that helps you make uniform patties, but I'm not sure that I like it. I thought I would prefer a larger thinner patty, but now that I've made them, I think I kinda' liked the thicker hand-patted type patty. It made it seem more like a hamburger, more homemade and less processed. Making the patties thinner also makes them a little more fragile and a little more difficult to flip halfway through the oven baking part. I'll probably just form them by hand from now on.

The Mushroom & Onion definitely improved on the taste of the burgers. They are quite delicious. The only problem was that the extra moisture from the Mushroom & Onion, which I didn't compensate for, changed the texture of the burgers and made them a little bit softer, or as I like to say, smushier. They were still firm, but not as firm as the original batch. I think that could be remedied easily just by adding some more Vital Wheat Gluten, maybe bumping it up from 2/3 cup to a whole cup. That's probably what I'll try next. And I assume I'll probably need to increase all of the other flavorings like the soy sauce and stuff by 50% so the flavor doesn't get watered down by the extra gluten. So that's what I plan on trying next. These are good though. The taste is better than the first batch, and it's definitely the "meatiest" veggie burger that I have ever eaten. So stay tuned. I might work on this more next week.

To go along with my burger I just brought some Sweet Yellow Corn and some Peas & Carrots. Just frozen veggies that I dumped into the lunchbox containers, still frozen, last night. They'll be thawed by lunchtime and a quick zap in the microwave will get them all nice & steamy.

For dessert, I brought along an Apple Pie Larabar. This is probably my favorite flavor of Larabars and I consume quite a few of them a week, usually for breakfast. I like them because they are vegan, they are raw, they taste good and they are ultra-convenient for eating as a quick breakfast while driving to work in the morning.

So I guess that does it for another week of vegan lunches. I'll continue working on the veggie burger until I get it just the way that I want it, and then I'll post the entire recipe & process here so you can try it. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend here in Tennessee. I get to leave work early today and I can't wait to get out there and start enjoying this beautiful weather.

Thanks for stopping by today and I'll see everybody on Monday.

Have a great weekend!


SallyT said...

You might also try sauteing the onions and portabellas beforehand to dry them out.

springsandwells said...

I've actually only made homemade veggie burgers once, and they were SO MUCH work - and not so great. I'll try this recipe out sometime - thanks for linking to it! Bryanna is a master of the fake meats!

Also, Larabars rule! I like "Ginger Snap" the best. :)

Melanie said...

that really does look like a good recipe, and i like your idea of adding the mushrooms and onions to the mix. i'm actually heading to Natural Foods in a little while to pick up chickpea flour and etc. to make a Greek dinner for my friends tonight, so I think I'll grab the wheat gluten and some extra chickpea flour and make up a big batch of this for the freezer. i'll also grab one of those apple pie larabars, because you're KILLIN' me with them! :)

Melanie said...

ok...i made a batch of this last night, a BIG batch, and divided it into patty portions and froze it. i cooked the mushrooms in the micro until softened to get the extra water out and to maybe prevent some shrinkage in the finished patties. had intended to grill some for lunch today, but we were all hungry again by the time we finished watching all our DVDs last night so we fired up the grill about 2am and made some. BIG HIT! everyone was totally happy with the taste and texture, everyone found it very satisfying. myself with the hypoglycemia and my friend with diabetes, neither of us experienced the blood sugar issues that we often do when something is too carb-heavy. i think the chickpea flour helped out with that quite a bit, plus it gives a wonderfully savory, creamy flavor. i'm going to the store soon to get more materials to make a few pounds of this for the freezer, because this is something my kids can easily pop into the toaster oven and broil for themselves whenever they want munchies, and it's better for them than the masses of dried fruit they usually head for.

Lady Di said...

You might want to actually cook the mushroom/onion mixture first before mixing it into the burger (or even before pureeing). That should help you get out the extra water, and provide a bit more flavor too. I wouldn't think that they would be overcooked once you bake the burger either.

kennyboy said...

Great ideas everybody!

I will definitely cook the onions & mushrooms in advance next time.

And WOW! Melanie. Sounds like you're doing what I am planning on doing. I want to keep a huge stockpile of these things in the freezer this Summer. I've just cooked mine in a skillet so far, I can't wait to start cooking them on the grill, maybe next week?!?!?!


Melanie said...

they did well on the grill, but OIL THEM first! trust me on this one. ;)

i grilled some more for dinner tonight because everyone liked them so much. so, i've got pictures. i'll probably have them up in the blog at some point with links here for your version so people can get a look at the possibilities. i think maybe i chopped the mushrooms a little *too* much, i might want slightly bigger pieces next time, but they definitely added a lot to the burgers. oh, i added lots of liquid smoke too.

kennyboy said...

Oh YES YES YES! Liquid Smoke is on my list of things to add next time.

And thanks for warning me about slicking them up before putting them on the grill.


VeganCyclist said...

Kenny, I am so glad to see you back. I had taken you off my blogroll, after your seitan post waaaay back, because you never came back! I've enjoyed catching up here..:)
The burgers Look FABULOUS!