I realised that the three previous posts this month all involved the use of bacon in one way or another. I was thinking about unofficially declaring this to be bacon month and going with a fourth bacon dish (you can never eat enough bacon), but instead have decided to go in an entirely different direction.
I am not usually one to eat or make veggie burgers (as they say on the Simpsons, “you don’t make friends with salad!), but on the spur of the moment my girlfriend and I bought some veggie burger patties on special.
Anyhow, I find that to make a good veggie burger, it is not quite as simple as putting in what you would for a beef burger and then switching the beef with a veggie pattie. This is because a beef patty is primarily a mixture of protein and fat, where a veggie pattie is predominantly carbohydrate, with perhaps some protein from lentils, chickpeas or the like. Therefore if you are not careful, your veggie burger will be quite heavy, dry and bland.
The way around this is in the bun, sauce and salad, which I tailored for the veggie patty.
For the buns, I used a yeast-leavened dough made with strong white flour, sugar and salt (roughly 6:1 ratio sugar to salt), sour cream and water. I made the dough quite wet and sticky because the plan was to make little miniature buns that I would stick into a very hot oven to rise quickly. I let the dough prove overnight and the next day in the fridge for the flavour and texture to develop. The sugar, salt and sour cream create a very nice balance of flavours so you could happily eat the bun by itself.
The extra moisture in the dough creates steam, which causes the buns to expand rapidly in the oven. I assist the process by chucking ice cubes into the bottom of the oven. This creates steam in the oven which allows the buns to rise even higher in the oven (the moisture prevents the buns from setting). One day I would love to have a steam injection oven, but for the moment ice cubes will have to do!
|Freshly baked mini burger bun. The bun is egg-glazed with sesame seeds sprinkled on top just before baking. Afterwards, it is toasted before assembling. It is crusty on the outside and very light and fluffy inside.|
For the rest of the burger ingredients, I chose shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, sliced tomatoes, snow pea sprouts and sliced cheddar cheese. This is a fairly standard set of ingredients except perhaps the snow pea sprouts. The iceberg lettuce and snow pea sprouts are there mainly to add crunch and moisture, with a mild blend of flavours. The sliced red onion serves a similar purpose but adds some sweetness and kick. The tomatoes add sweetness, acidity and lots of juice.
|Ingredients to be assembled. The veggie patty was still being pan-fried.|
Finally, the twist is the ketchup, which is just a normal ketchup but with finely diced garlic, sugar and habanero sauce added. The garlic adds an extra dimension not only to the ketchup, but to the entire burger. The habanero sauce adds some real heat, which is balanced by the sugar and the edge is taken off by the extra carbs in the veggie pattie. However, this mix turns a relatively bland veggie burger into something quite interesting.
To go with the burger, I just made small potato wedges from baby potatoes. These were par-boiled, dried with a paper towel and then tossed in a mixture of melted butter and pink Himalayan mineral salt. It is finished in a hot oven, and ends up nice, crunchy and flavourful. This is served up with some more of the garlic habanero ketchup.
I realise that I’ve cheated in this post because I didn’t even design the main component of the meal. However, I did make the buns so I guess that’s something. If I develop a veggie burger patty recipe down the track, I will make up for this turn of laziness/cheating by posting that.
Anyhow, I hope this idea provides some insight and inspiration if you ever want to experiment with veggie burgers. Just to be completely inappropriate, you can always add bacon to this mix :)
|The finished dish.|
|Just the burger.|