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Remember that circa 1984 Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” commercial? [If you are too young to remember, I really hate you right now.]

Here’s a burger that might just make you forget to ask the question even though no animals were harmed in the making of these juicy, flavorful patties from the always incredible Cook’s Illustrated kitchen.

My twists are using Trader Joe’s steamed lentils (in the refrigerated produce section)  instead of going thru the drudgery of cooking dried lentils, and serving these veggie burgers on locally baked four seed bread from Anderson Brick Oven (available at historic Findlay Market in Cincinnati’s up and coming Over The Rhine neighborhood) instead of a bun, along with slices of Roma tomatoes, baby romaine and Tzatziki from Areti’s Gyros. Nice served with a side of fresh corn rolled in a butter/feta/fresh mint mixture. More on that later.

Making these burgers is a great project for a rainy afternoon; they do take about an hour thirty to assemble plus another ten minutes to cook. (I won’t even tell you how long it took me to clean the kitchen.)

Cook’s Illustrated calls them
The Ultimate Veggie Burger

  • 3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine (2 cups)
  • 1 rib celery (large), chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (2 teaspoons)
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms (or white), cleaned and sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 6 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashew
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Good crusty bread for serving (or a bun)
  • Garnish du jour
Measure our 3/4 cup TJ’s lentils, and drain in fine-mesh strainer. Line baking sheet with a double layer paper towels and spread drained lentils over. Gently pat lentils dry.

Bring 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Stir bulgur wheat into boiling water and cover immediately; let stand off heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in fine-mesh strainer; use rubber spatula to press out excess moisture. Transfer bulgur to medium bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, leek, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Spread vegetable mixture on second baking sheet to cool; set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet; heat over high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Spread mushrooms on baking sheet with vegetable mixture; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Process cashews in food processor until finely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses (do not wash food processor blade or bowl); stir into bowl with bulgur along with cooled lentils, vegetable-mushroom mixture, and mayonnaise.
Transfer half of mixture to now-empty food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, fifteen to twenty 1-second pulses; mixture should be cohesive but roughly textured. Transfer processed mixture to large bowl; repeat with remaining unprocessed mixture and combine with first batch.
Stir in panko, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Divide mixture into 12 portions, about 1/2 cup each, shaping each into tightly packed patty, 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick; set patties on baking sheet; paper towels will absorb excess moisture.
(Patties can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days.)
Cook on the grill for five minutes per side or on the stove top for four minutes per side.
Corn on the Cob with Feta and Mint
Double, triple, quadruple to your heart’s content
1 ear fresh corn, husked
1 pat butter
2 tsp crumbled feta
1 tsp chopped fresh mint
Cook corn in salted, boiling water just until warmed through, about four minutes. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the corn. Add feta crumbles, salt, pepper and mint. Immediately roll the corn in the mixture. (The feta will melt into a gummy mess if overcooked, so be careful!) Serve.

 Make a cow happy today. Eat a veggie burger.