The Half-Beef/Half-Mushroom Burger: Notes From the Field

©. Sami Grover

Veggie-burger skeptic? Why not meat us halfway?

As I noted in my (surprisingly complimentary) post about vegan cheese, I've been eating a mostly plant-based diet of late, due to health and environmental concerns. Health-wise, I've just found out that the results were rather astounding—but more on that later. In terms of food and enjoyment, it's been more of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, I've loved exploring new foods and eating a more varied diet. It's broadly been a genuinely positive experience. But I'm not going to lie: I miss meat, and I can't see myself going 100% vegan in the near term. Hence I experimented a little for my "cheat meal" yesterday: Prompted by my story on Sonic's beef/mushroom burger, as well as Katherine's posts on the Better Burger Challenge, I decided to have a go at one of these half-beef, half-mushroom burgers I keep hearing so much about.

The results were delicious. Here's how it worked:

Following, broadly speaking, this recipe from the New York Times, I roasted a couple of pounds of cremini mushrooms with salt, black pepper and a hefty dose of olive oil.

roasted mushrooms photo

© Sami Grover

I then whizzed up the mushrooms in a blender, mixing in a little powdered dry mushrooms for good measure. That mixture—which ended up about 1lb in weight—then got mixed with an equal amount of ground beef (grass-fed and local, of course), as well as an egg, some parsley and a little bit of finely diced onion. The only variation to the New York Times recipe was a dash of tamari, instead of Worcestershire sauce. (Apologies, vegan friends. I know this is not an appetizing image.)

mushroom burger mix photo

© Sami Grover

All that was left was to form some patties, chill them in the fridge for half an hour, and then throw them on the grill. We then served them up with the usual burger fixings. (Yes, I did go with the aforementioned vegan cheese.) I have to say, the results were delicious—juicy, firm and deeply meaty in terms of flavor. Yet they were also lighter on the stomach than a typical beef burger, leaving me satisfied but not over full. Interestingly, they were also more forgiving on the grill. Due to a scheduling error in the kitchen, I overcooked them a little to 160 degrees, and yet they still turned out juicy, and even a little pink. (I had worried about the color, given all those 'shrooms in the mix.) Overall, I'll say this is a keeper —and a great way to introduce the carnivores in your life to a slightly less meat-centric diet.

mushroom burger photo

© Sami Grover