Monday, May 19, 2008

Food Blogging: Burgers

Burgers have been on my mind recently, but the price of McDonald's or the Brazilian substitutes is way out of my price range for a weekly indulgence, not to mention what that would do to my not-bikini-ready body! But I've been thinking about cheeseburgers a lot.

A while ago, in an attempt to cut my grocery bills, I bought a bag of textured vegetable protein. TVP. It’s a flaky soy-based meat substitute that must be reconstituted before using. It also smells like dog food. My first experience with TVP was several months ago and I hadn’t touched the bag since, my meatless spaghetti sauce being a minor disaster. But in college, I was a big fan of veggie burger patties. I used to brown onions in a tiny bit of butter or olive oil, then toss a little white wine into the mix, maybe some rosemary, and fry up a patty in the sauce. They were great…and a much healthier late-night snack. In class the other night, one of the girls mentioned that she was a vegetarian and told me how she used TVP. I was already feeling guilty about that unused bag sitting in my refrigerator, so today I decided to experiment. And you know what? They were so good, I've just added a new recipe to my repertoire: Erica's Brazilian VeggieBurgers, in homage to my classmate.

These quantities are guesstimates. I was under kitchen inspiration and didn’t measure anything. My uncooked mixture was kind of wet (I think I should have measured the water for the TVP) but when they were fried turned out perfect, so if anyone is brave enough to try this recipe, don’t be scared off by the “batter.” Try a test patty. If it is too soft, wet, whatever, you can always add more of the dry ingredients. This recipe made 6 medium veggieburgers.

The “meat”:
½ cup TVP
Dissolve ½ a beef bullion cube in enough water for your TVP (see package directions)
Add TVP and cook according to package directions. Set aside to rehydrate. Drain any excess water.

Dry ingredients:
¼ cup whole oats
¼ cup wheat bran
3-4 T flour
bread crumbs if necessary/desired

Add-ins and condiments:
sesame seeds
garlic salt to taste
¼-1/2 a grated carrot
¼ cup diced onion
black pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
½ t-1 T soy sauce (depending on personal preference)
1 T ketchup

1 lightly beaten egg

Add your condiments, add-ins, and dry ingredients to the TVP. Mix in the egg. It should be slightly wet but form patties. Too dry, add water/bullion. Too wet? Add more dry ingredients. Fry patties in a little oil for a few minutes on each side. Best as cheeseburgers. I’m experimenting to see if they freeze well…

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