I’ve been battling mooshy burgers since I started making vegan burgers. I’ve found that if they’re firm enough, they’re often too dry. If they’re moist enough, they moosh out the side of your bun. What is a girl to do?
I decided to experiment with making frozen patties because it seems to work so well for all those store bought brands. I assembled the following:
1 cup of black-eyed peas, soaked OR 1 can of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of sliced olives
1/4 cup of mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/4 onion, chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I chopped some gluten-free bread in my food processor)
1 tbsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp corn oil
red pepper flakes and salt to taste
If you’re using dried beans, take a moment to microwave them in water 3-4 times at 2 minute intervals to soften them slightly. We put all the ingredients into a bowl and I set my expert moosher (that’s Brent) to power moosh. It wasn’t long before it was looking and smelling like burger material so I started scooping the mixture into some plastic freezer safe containers.
I made sure that the patties were compacted and of a relatively uniform thickness, about 1/2-3/4 inch. I put a piece of plastic wrap over it and then used the next one to help compact the burger. I put them in the freezer until I was ready to use them.
These were actually some of the best burgers Brent and I have prepared. They were moist and held together and had a pleasing dense texture. They tasted enough like ground beef to be a little disturbing. I have no desire to eat cows!
I am going to take a moment to discuss why ground beef isn’t so great for your body. The obvious stuff aside (cholesterol, saturated fat, hormones and antibiotics) cooking beef or any meat is a tricky business. Preparing meat for food means balancing microbial contaminants with carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meat is cooked. Big agribusiness has made the case that they cannot ‘efficiently’ process large volumes of animals without some inherent contamination by the animals’ feces. This means that if you buy meat, it’s got poop on it and the law says that’s okay. They cover their butts (pardon my language) by saying, “Cook it thoroughly.” Which translates to, “If you get sick it’s your fault for not cooking it thoroughly.” Try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of people that get some form of food poisoning or another every year from eating meat.
So fine, meat is ‘safe’ if you cook it thoroughly but back to the issue of how cooking fundamentally changes the composition of what you’re eating. Smoked and cured meats have long been the accused culprits of causing colon cancer partly because of how they’re prepared: prolonged exposure to heat. Cancers of the digestive tract are among of the most common and more deadly kinds of cancer, one in 6 will get it and one third of those will die from it within 5 years of being diagnosed.
So you can follow some tips to reduce the risk of introducing carcinogens into your diet or you can skip straight to legumes and other plants (including black-eyed peas!) which have long been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. One of the likely reasons for this activity is phytic acid . This is one of those small molecules that makes biochemists like me swoon but it’s properties speak for themselves. In the context of a Western diet the ability of phytic acid to sequester certain minerals that, in excess, can cause the kind of oxidative stress on the lining of the digestive tract that can eventually lead to cancer. Phytic acid when bound to fluoride from your drinking water, for example, will be excreted in your waste. Still, you can easily reduce the amount of phytic acid by soaking legumes them overnight or sprouting if you’re worried.
I think I’ve rambled enough. Time for burgers! Just pop them out of their frozen container, no thawing necessary and cook on medium high heat until they start to brown. Mine are a little charred… probably why they reminded me so much of ground beef, but they were definitely firm on the outside and moist and delightful on the inside. Yay!
This is Christie and Brent, signing off!