Every few months or so, I like to re-try the foods that I think I hate, just to reaffirm the fact that I hate them. It’s been like 65 months and I still can’t stand raw celery, okra, and red delicious apples being in and around my mouth. But hitting the refresh button on my hatred is a really important process of self-discovery for me.
I don’t hate veggie burgers in theory, but I sure as hell do in practice. Just because something doesn’t contain meat doesn’t mean it needs to be sitting on a cardboard-ass wheat bun with a three-inch-thick impenetrable wall of alfalfa sprouts and a hefty spritzing of self-righteousness from everyone in a 20-foot radius.
I don’t want to eat healthy and I’m not a good person; I just want to occasionally put vegetables in my body.
So I went to Superiority Burger in New York, which stakes its name on being the anti-alfalfa-sprouted veggie burger, to either a) reaffirm my hatred a la okra (goo sticks) and celery (fart stalks) or b) find my repressed inner love for what well-seasoned, properly cooked, hand-held vegetables can be.
I came away with more of the latter than the former, but I also left confused. I had almost no frame of reference for comparison — that grimy, fast-food-style veggie burger doesn’t really exist. So, I made my own, and you can too!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cremini mushrooms
- Extra firm tofu
- Roasted almonds
- Black-eyed peas (not the band)
- Crusty bread
- Various Toppings
First off, roast yourself some beets. Trim the stems and the ends off of two red beets, give them a rinse, then put each one in a foil packet with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Seal the packet and throw in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until they’re fork tender. Take them out, let them cool, then pulse them in a food processor until they’re all crumbly and stuff.
Take a pound of cremini mushrooms, cut them into quarters, then throw them in the food processor (take the beets out first) and pulse until they’re finely minced. Throw the mushroom mixture in a searing hot pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, add a liberal amount of salt and pepper along with a tablespoon each of soy sauce and worcestershire, then sauté for about 10 minutes until the the mixture is completely dry. This is going to be your foundational flavor mush. Every veggie burger needs a good flavor mush — like a house built on rock instead of sand or whatever. Throw it in the mixing bowl along with the beets.
Now, get down with the tofu. Cut a one pound block of the extra firm jiggly stuff in half through the equator, season liberally with salt, then throw it all in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Put a large weighted pan on top of the tofu to compress it down and develop a nice crust. You want some crusty bits on the edge of your jiggly bits to add texture. Flip the tofu and repeat on the other side. Pulse the tofu in the food processor and throw in your mush bowl.
Cut the heels off of a crusty loaf of bread — I used rye, because rye is the tits — dice it up, and throw it in the food processor along with a cup of roasted almonds, ½ cup of black eyed peas, and 4 ounces of soyrizo. That’s a vegetarian version of chorizo, and you absolutely need to be using it. All the flavor, none of the trans fats. Pulse it in the food processor until it’s finely minced.
Now, mash that irreverent looking bowl of cruelty-free food with your hands until you get a homogenous-looking bowl of flavor mush. Taste it to make sure it’s seasoned well — add salt, pepper, and whatever the hell else you want. And add some breadcrumbs if it’s not firm enough. You want it real nice and firm-like.
Form patties out of your faux-cow and sear on a cast iron pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. You want the pan to be real hot since you want to get a deep char on both sides of the burger. The more char you get, the more you forget you’re not eating a real burger, and I think that’s the goal here, right?
Toast up some buns, and add all your favorite accoutrements, including, but certainly not limited to, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese — all that good stuff — then smash it together and shove it in your facehole. Suffice it to say I no longer hate veggie burgers. Still hate red delicious apples (mushy nothing spheres) though. Fuck those things.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.