Friday, February 14, 2014

veggie burgers

I love a great hamburger, but let’s fact it, great hamburgers are few and far between. The best advertisement I can think of for these all vegetable “burgers” is that I have never managed the patience it takes to snap a picture of them. This is a true vegetable burger that lives up to its name: loaded with shredded carrots, mushrooms, onion, celery and red peppers with just enough nuts and egg to provide complete protein. As with all Veggie Burgers, if you think about these as a flesh free substitute for a hamburger, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Do not fall into that trap. If you let yourself experience these as something different, you will be rewarded with something that is, moist, delicious, complexly flavored, and very satisfying: seriously, I cannot finish two of these burgers without feeling stuffed to the gills.

A cold beer is just as enjoyable with these as it is with a great hamburger, and potato chips are a must, but skip the fries and soda pop. I eat these with fresh sliced tomato, lettuce and all the trappings of a beef burger – even the pickles.

One caveat, these require a firm hand when pressing the veggies into paddies, and then very gentle handling until they are fully cooked. I usually think of the first burger as an experiment, or as the French say about crêpes, “the first one, is for the dog.”

Recipe following cut: 

3L [~12 cup] food processor with grating disk*, 7.5L [8 qt] capacity VERY large mixing bowl, digital metric/imperial scale, silicon spatula to scrape out food processor, 3.3L [3.5 qt] capacity mixing bowl for weighing ingredients, dish or plate for dredging, 30cm [12 inch] large sauté pan, 33cm x 46cm [13” x 18”] sheet pan, parchment paper, 2 flexible spatulas

*These can be made without the food processor. Simply grate all of the appropriate ingredients on a hand grater, and then weigh and add to the mixing bowl.

450g grated carrots
55g grated celery
55g grated onion
60g minced roasted red pepper*
100g ground walnuts**
115g grated Cremini mushrooms
65g minced scallions
50g sliced scallions
55g egg – lightly beaten [~1 large]
2.5ml Tabasco, or other hot sauce [~½ tsp]
5ml coarse grade sea salt [~1 tsp]
1.25ml freshly ground black pepper [~¼ tsp]
30g matzo meal or other cracker meal + more for dredging ***
30ml olive oil for frying
- salt and pepper to taste

* I used roasted red peppers out of the jar for convenience. Drain and pat dry on paper towel using light pressure to remove excess liquids.

**Any mild tasting nut can be substituted.

***If you cannot find matzo meal you can grind the regular matzo crackers in a food processor, or use unsalted water crackers or saltines. If using a salted cracker to make the cracker meal, omit the salt.

Mise en place:
Clean and peel all ingredients before grating and then weighing.

Transfer ingredients from food processor to medium sized bowl to weigh and then place together in the large mixing bowl. Leave egg and cracker meal until last.

Place oil in sauté pan. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper and place that on the stovetop surface next to the sauté pan.

Mix all ingredients together with clean hands. Set aside for a minimum of twenty minutes and up to one hour to combine.

Preheat oven to 250ºC [475ºF] and then heat the olive oil in the skillet.

Working in batches; form the paddies pressing the mixture together with your hands, dredge in cracker meal and then press again before placing one at a time into the pan.

Pan fry until dark brown on one side, and then using both spatulas, gently flip the burgers. Slide one spatula under the burger, flip it against the second spatula, and then slice the uncooked side onto the hot surface of the sauté pan.

Cook until browned on second side and then transfer to the parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Once all the paddies are on the sheet pan, place in the hot oven to fully cook. Approximately 10 – 12 minutes.

Make ahead:
Allow paddies to cool on the parchment, and if possible transfer them uncovered to a freezer. Allow them to freeze and then wrap in parchment paper and place in a zip top bag. The burgers keep well for up to six months. Thaw and reheat in moderate oven before serving.

These can also be cook through and then heated on an outdoor grill and served as a vegetarian alternative. Brush with flavorless oil before grilling briefly to heat through.

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