Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Veggie Burger Rethought

Faux burgers have always had a bad rap.Even restaurants can't quite capture the juiciness and color of the real thing. That's all changing.The veggie burger is having a renaissance right now and home chefs should take notice.It's not that blah blob anymore but an actual burger, juicy and delicious

Erik Piepenburg who usually writes about the arts for the New York Times,penned this article for the newspaper's Food section. As we all know restaurant veggie burgers are usually a God awful mush , tasting mainly of peas.Some do have good ones, such as Jake's  Wayback where the burger has a nice crisp outside and a chewy inside. However these are mass produced like the Morningstar Farms ones  in the supermarket. They're a cut above the old kind as as well as over some homemade creations. Fake burgers were always a challenge for even the most experienced of chefs and were thus relegated to the fringes of a restaurant's menu. That's all changing thanks to a new generation of chefs. There's also a plant based "meat" being made by Impossible Foods and it consists of  wheat, coconut oil,potato protein and heme, the last an iron molecule that's not only abundant in meat but also in such plants as Swiss chard and collard greens.It's also found in vegan staples , soy and tofu along with black beans and chickpeas. Impossible Food's burger looks exactly like a true blue beef burger and is now being served at Momufuku Nishi in Chelsea.It is just as good as the real thing, albeit a bit pricey at $12.

Other chefs are taking the more creative route. Brooks Headley, formerly a pastry chef at the famed Del Posto in lower Manhattan has created his own version of the veggie burger at his new restaurant,
Superiority Burger.It is one of the most acclaimed ones in the city.(It was awarded two stars by Pete Wells). How did it get to be so good? Chef Headley approaches the recipe the way the way Italian restaurants approach their meatball recipes - with different meats and seasonings.He tries to use everything in his culinary arsenal.There's fresh veggies,grains and beans,along with a potato starch slurry. This last acts as a binder when it's heated to 180 degrees Farenheit. It gelatinizes the mixture which results in a nice, firm burger that doesn't fall apart on the grill or plate.Some chefs go the mushroom route. Jillian CameraCo-chef at Toad Style, a vegan comfort food eatery in Bedford-Stuyvesant, makes her vegan cheeseburger with cremini mushrooms,red onions and green lentils. She also puts in steel cut oats chia seeds and garlic too for texture and flavor.Spices are also added before the burger is formed and then topped off with almond cheese.Any home chef can recreate these along with the dozens of veggie burgers recipes on line.It's just trial and error until home chefs get the right taste and texture.

Veggie burgers are going through a renaissance right now.They're not those mushy patties with a bad rep and even worst taste. They are juicy, mouth watering burgers that are right up with the real thing.

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