The following is a side post to a story I wrote about that details events in my life both in the restaurant biz and out. It goes into some detail with some restaurant psychology sprinkled throughout. There are no pictures in that post but there is a song that I highly suggest playing while you read to get the full experience. Although you can certainly just read this recipe without reading the background story but I like to think of it like looking at a painting. You can go to an art gallery and look at paintings, but the whole experience is so much more rewarding when you have a working knowledge about the artist, and why he chose to do the things that he did with the painting. Just a thought...ok I'll shut up now, and give you what you want: a recipe to follow(Parts I&II if you would like to read them first).
Houston's Veggie Burger Recipe (Copycat): (Yields about 4 patties)
- 4T Hickory BBQ sauce + more for slathering
- 1T Molasses
- 1 (15oz) can of black beans, drained & rinsed
- 2C cooked brown rice
- 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
- 2T raw oat bran, ground
- 1T canned beets, finely chopped
- 1T pickled jalapenos, diced
- 1t beet juice
- 1t chili powder
- 1/4t cumin
- 1/4t black pepper
- 1/2t salt
- 1 egg white (binder)
- 2T olive oil (for pan-frying)
- pepperjack/colby jack cheese (optional)
- 4 burger buns
(My alterations to the copycat recipe):
- Hickory BBQ and + in Dinosaur Bar-be-que's "roasted garlic honey bbq sauce"
+ roasted 1/2 giant beet instead of 1T of canned
- beet juice and + juices from roasted beet
- oat bran and + raw steel-cut oats, ground
- the pickled jalapenos
- the egg white and + 1 whole egg (binder)
+ 3 garlic cloves, minced
+ 4-5 baby bella mushrooms (baby portobellas, hence the name), brunoise/small small dice
+1/2t Hungarian Paprika (wayyy hotter than regular paprika by the way)
+ 4 dried figs, small dice (my secret ingredient)
+ 6 wheat thins, ground (my secret ingredient)
+ few sprigs of Savory, thyme, 1 sage leaf, finely chop all
+ Montreal Steak Seasoning to sprinkle over top
+ smoked Gouda cheese instead of pepperjack
- Boil a large pot of salted water like you would for pasta and once its at a boil dump in 1C brown rice. Let fully boil for 30 minutes, strain for 10 seconds and return to the pot, covered, to steam for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (still oven, subtract about 50 degrees if convection). Wrap a rather large beet unpeeled in tin foil with plenty of salt, pepper, and olive oil. place the foil ball into the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes until so tender a fork can slide in/out effortlessly. Let sit wrapped in foil to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, mash the black beans in a large bowl and set aside. Working with a sharp knife (knives should have a personality, a dull knife is no fun) chop the onion, and mushrooms and saute quickly to get some color and release their flavor/aroma. Add the garlic at the last moment so it wont burn/blacken.
- Grind the steel-cut oats with the wheat thins in a mortar and pestle (if you have one) or in a food processor until a fine powder. Mix in the spices and chopped herbs and grind some more.
- Once the brown rice is done steaming, fluff with a form and add to the mashed beans.
- Once the beet is roasted and has cooled slightly, gently peel off the skin with your hands or paper towel (it steams in the foil so the skin comes off like cake)
- Finely chop half the beet or brunoise (thats 1/8" X 1/8" X 1/8" cube if you were wondering...) and reserve the other half for another time.
- Finely chop the figs/brunoise (there's that word again) and add everything to the rice/beans bowl with the whole egg. Mix everything together with your hands and form into patties.
- Lay the patties onto a platter and season liberally with salt, freshly ground coarse black pepper, and Montreal Steak Seasoning
- Get a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed skillet screaming hot, add a bit of oil such as grapeseed or canola (for the love of God DON'T use extra virgin olive oil) and gently lay the patties into the pan in batches if needed (do not overcrowd the pan).
- Let the patties get a good sear, flip them over (gently), turn the heat down to med-high, and toss in a pad of butter. Tilt the pan towards you, scoop up the melted butter with a spoon and baste the patties to keep them moist and hot. Once they are cooked through slather on some BBQ sauce and top with all the fixin's you like!
Tips/Tricks to Help You Out:
- Rinse your brown rice until water runs clear before cooking b/c some of the rice gets ground up in the bag and if you add it the rice will stick together an me mushy due to the extra starch content (similar effect to pasta sticking together in water)
- Roasting the beet in foil with oil and salt/pep helps infuse the flavor into the beet while also steaming it so the skin is removed effortlessly
- Always clean your shrooms cause they literally grow in shit, but rinsing under water won't allow them to get a good sear (they will steam instead) so do this instead: wet a paper towel and ring out the excess water. Use the damp paper towel to clean the shrooms so they will be clean AND you can get a good sear on them. Searing food = flavor.
- Adding mushrooms to the mix introduces the mysterious 5th flavor (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) discovered by scientists in the 1950's called Umami. It's found in various types of seaweed/kelp, MSG, mushrooms, and other things. It's what makes you salivate and crave more (kind of like Prosecco does before a meal)
- The steak seasoning tricks your brain into thinking you are eating actual meat. Your brain naturally associates the seasoning with beef cause we use it on steak and such. Tricking your mind is fun, unlike trying to tickle yourself...which is not.
- The dried figs are not just for filler, but for sweetness. Meat can taste almost sweet sometimes so this also tricks the brain.
- I like to use a mortar and pestle to grind the oatmeal and wheat thins (my secret) because you can control the process and ensure an even grind, but also because the motor and pestle becomes seasoned over time (always wipe out with a damp cloth NEVER NEVER NEVER use soap and water b/c its porous and the soap will live in the pours FOREVER!) so you get flavors that you couldn't have otherwise
- Rather than buying beet juice (or using my juicer) I just use the juices left in the foil from the roasting process for a deeper, earthier flavor.
- Do not try to grill these suckers because they will fall apart on the grill. Let me repeat this, DO NOT GRILL THE PATTIES!!!!
- Hungarian paprika has a better flavor profile than regular paprika and can be found in most super-markets. Forewarned though, as Hungarian Paprika is way spicier, so a little goes a long way.
- when sauteeing the onions, mushrooms, and garlic, add the garlic in the last few seconds so it wont burn.
- Play music, pour wine, and ENJOY YOURSELF! Cooking at home should be a pleasurable experience. Freaking the F out is not allowed!
- If there are dishes in the sink already, DO THEM as you will accumulate lots of dirty dishes over the course of this whole process.
- Harping on the point above, wash pots/dishes as you go! Clean as you go! this way when your done, you can eat and relax. No one wants to do dishes after the fact...
Pictures of the Process:
Eye level recipe
|how to chop an onion: slice into the onion in layers|
|Then slice across the onion|
|Finally slice down the onion to create the desired dice size|
|Go over the dice again to mince finer if needed|
|nice cleaned shrooms, remember the damp towel method!|
|Baby vine ripes aka "cocktail tomatoes" (garnish)|
|Secret ingredient: FIGS!|
|Roasted beet: skin should slide right off now|
|Slice discs then brunoise/super small dice to help recreate meaty texture|
|Don't forget your herbs: savory, sage, thyme. Rough chop 'em!|
|Now we rollin'|
|I added wheat thins to oat meal for extra flavor|
|Beat the life out of them|
|stop. Now add your spices and beat again.|
|Work with your hands as much as possible to build a connection w/ your food!|
|patties and a small tester (that failed miserably on the grill)|
|Screamin' hot cast-iron is best for searing.|
Now doesn't that just look like real beef? It will taste like it too if you followed my simple techniques to trick your own brain! Going back to something I said in the story post for this recipe, you can take simple things that most people neglect to give the proper care and elevate it beyond what it should be. Veggie burgers don't just have to be those frozen patties at the super-market anymore. By taking the time and care you have changed its nature from ordinary frozen patty condemned by society to something so spectacular it might even change the way you think about vegetables...
The combinations all made sense and tasted out of this world. Sometimes when you improvise and add lots of ingredients they compete against each other and the food has too many sharp contrasts. But if you know how to approach food (or if you're lucky) you can create balance, and harmony, just like...well you get the idea by now.