When I lived and worked in kitchens in France and Belgium, I was often teased about the “cuisine americain” being nothing but burgers and catchup – which they called “sauce americaine.” Oh, those Frenchmen…
Fast-forward and I’m entertaining French “Name Chefs” in Manhattan (I won’t mention who, but foodies would know him), and what does he want but burgers!!!
But I have to admit…there really isn’t anything like a good burger. It has to have the perfect balance of charred meat and fatty richness (protein). Add crisp lettuce, tomato and onion (vegetables), and energy sustaining bread (grain), and you have the perfect food.
Then you get to top it with bacon (another food group on its own), cheese of some sort, and condiments (Didn’t Reagan say catchup was a food group?). It’s a very democratic food; “have it your way.” What could be better?
Alternatives To Beef
In the restaurant, we often have small bits of proteins other than beef so burgers can be a great way to use them up while offering our guests a fun way to get their protein and yet keep it lean. Tuna, salmon, turkey and chicken all make wonderful burgers, as do the fattier lamb and pork.
I sometimes like to add my topping right to the mix. Lamb is great with feta and black olives. Turkey is tasty with chopped arugula, cracked black pepper and chunks of goat cheese.
Try some ground pork on the grill that has been mixed with rosemary, chilies and diced bits of smoked mozzarella – heavenly. These little “inventions” are often so well received by guests that they end up landing on the menu.
Ethnic flavors are also great with ground meat. Try Asian seasoning with fish burgers, Middle Eastern with lamb, Caribbean with pork, and cumin and other Mexican flavors with beef.
Harrison Lake Garden Burgers
Threw these together with my brother Dave on the 4th of July 4, 2002 at our family home in Indiana. You can add all types of stuff to these from corn kernels to sautéed zucchini or eggplant. Garden burgers are a great way to use up those lonely veggies in the crisper!!!
Harrison Lake Garden Burgers
- 2 cans White Beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 boxes falafel mix
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 jalapeno, diced fine
- 1 cup cooked wheat berries
- 1 cup cooked green lentils
- 1 cup cooked portabello mushrooms (roasted or sautéed and diced in ¼ inch cubes)
- 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 5 scallions, chopped fine
- 2 tomatoes, diced fine
- 1/2 cup chopped herbs – such as basil, coriander, Italian parsley and oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the beans, egg whites and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the falafel mix and water and pulse until mixture is bound.
- Place the jalapeno, grains, mushrooms, scallions, tomatoes and herbs in a large bowl and fold in the bean mixture. Add additional water or some whole wheat flour to bind or moisten as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Form into patties and chill until ready to grill.
- Spray with olive oil non stick spray and grill, saute or broil until cooked through. About 5 minutes a side depending on heat and thickness.
- Serve open-faced on grilled garlic toast with cucumber and yogurt sauce, chickpea salad, red onion slices and sliced Hoosier tomatoes.
Note: For an even easier recipe use low-fat refried beans in place of the white beans and simply mix everything in a large bowl.
Beet And Honey Vinaigrette With Orange
- 1 inch peeled and roughly chopped ginger
- 3 strips orange peel
- juice of 1 orange
- 2 medium roasted beets, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2-3 cups salad oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.