No-meat burger doesn't disappoint
By Joe Yonan, Washington Post
In Print: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
It's easy to take issue with veggie burgers. They have gotten better as demand for meatless options has increased, but many are still dry, bland or mushy disks that contain precious little evidence of what makes them what they are: vegetables.
That's frustrating for someone like me who has been moving away from meat eating for a year or two, primarily because of health and environmental concerns (and long before I heard the term "pink slime"). As I soldiered on in my hunt for a good veggie burger, I decided at last to bring it all home. If I want to control what's in it, I figured I've got to make it myself.
It turns out that good veggie burgers aren't all that easy to master. Start with some ingredients you think might do the trick: hearty vegetables such as beans and mushrooms; spices and herbs; maybe some nuts and grains.
But if you don't also include the right stuff to bind it all, patties can fall apart as soon as they hit the pan. When you put in plenty of sticky binder — sweet potato, say, plus some flour and maybe, if you're not vegan, an egg or two — you realize only after you've cooked one that the inside has about as much texture as bean dip.
Mark Bucher was in such a state when he was developing recipes for BGR the Burger Joint, a chain that started in Bethesda, Md., in 2008. It has three locations in Florida, including 12913 N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
He was going for a texture "like a loosely packed ground-beef burger," which led him to a combination of brown rice and whole black beans, flavored with barbecue sauce and molasses.
The binder was elusive until he remembered Gimme Lean, a brand of soy products meant to emulate ground beef or sausage. The recipe contains a eureka moment. He discovered that after the patties are mixed and formed, oven time firms them up, holds them together and keeps the interior from getting mushy.
Cook what you need and freeze the rest.