Sunday, February 14, 2010

All-American Incrediburgers

These are the All-American Incrediburgers from American Vegan Kitchen. I don't know why I'm on this quest for the perfect vegan burger, since even before I went vegetarian I was more of a hot dog girl, and the hot dogs had to be carbonized crisply black all over before I would touch even them, but as a vegan, I guess it's just nice to think that there are some acceptable alternatives out there for us to some of the foods traditional on our continent, which is the motivation behind Tami's book, after all--I'm Canadian, not American, but fast food other than really weird stuff like deep fried Mars bars (on their side) or poutine (on ours) doesn't respect the border, even though human beings now need valid passports to get across.

My gripe with most vegan burgers is twofold: even though they may have good flavour (and some have very good flavour), the ones I've tried are either mushy or powdery; or they're largely composed of starch. Even if it tastes great, I don't want to be eating millet in a bun, or breadcrumbs in a bun, or oatmeal in a bun, even with a few beans or a little tofu mixed in. It just isn't right.

If you look at Tami's recipe, you'll see it has no fillers. The burger is made from TVP and seitan and various flavorings, so it's pretty much as packed with protein as a vegan burger could be. I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it slavishly, and even went to the store for two of the ingredients. You soak the TVP, and then mix all the ingredients together the way you normally would for seitan, and form them into burgers a la the image at the top of this post. Then you wrap each burger in tinfoil and steam them:

This isn't the kind of dish you can toss together in half an hour after work, so at this point you could probably freeze the steamed burgers for instant use later. Post-steaming it looks like this, appetizing, but it's still a little soft; also, they expand a bit in the steamer:

Refrigerate it for a while to firm it up, then grill or bake. I used a panini press. The burger is now very firm and not going to fall apart unless severely provoked. It's not mushy or grainy or dusty. The texture's great!

Then you make it into a burger. My buns wanted to be spheres, so when I cut my hamburger creation in two only one half would stand up by itself, hence the single rather messy half shown here (the buns were mine, not from any recipe in AVK). Other than being very tall and wobbly it was a regular-sized bun, so you can see that the burgers are quite large, quite a bit of seitan for one serving. Next time I would make four rather than three out of a half recipe, but that's just a matter of individual preference. I had to deconstruct this tower-o'-flavour in order to eat it.

The spices Tami offers are a good diner-style base, which is what she is aiming for—go easy on the liquid smoke if you don't want a really smoky-tasting burger—though next time I might try adding some red pepper flakes and cumin for a bit more of a kick. But I enjoyed this and will certainly make it again. For the kind of hamburgers that you eat in a bun, as opposed to serving on their own as patties or croquettes, I'm thinking that this is the way of the future.
On edit: Tami has posted the recipe here!

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