If there was ever a month to take a breather from traditional burgers, it’s June.
Sandwiched between National Burger Month (May) and the grillingest holiday of the year (July 4), this should be a time for us to beef up on our less-meaty options.
A handful of South Florida restaurants are among more than 100 places across the country that are participating, now through July 31, in the James Beard Foundation’s Better Burger Project.
The goal: Craft a burger that substitutes mushrooms for some of the meat-based protein, offering guests added nutritional benefits and contributing to environmental sustainability.
According to the foundation, adding mushrooms to burgers improves flavor, texture and juiciness, as well as reducing calories, fat and sodium and boosting vitamins D and B. An average-size burger made from a 50-50 blend of mushrooms and beef contains 149 calories, 8.8 grams of fat and 52.3 milligrams of sodium, compared to an all-beef burger’s 307 calories, 20.2 grams of fat and 85 milligrams of sodium.
The foundation “is excited to host the Better Burger Project and explore how blending meat with mushrooms can create new versions of burgers that are healthier and more sustainable,” said Kris Moon, senior director of strategy and development. “We feel that the project is a great example of how we can work with chefs to create these healthier options.”
Participating in the Better Burger Project:
Bulla Gastrobar, 2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables.
The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions, 5132 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio, 500 Brickell Key Dr. (Mandarin Oriental), Miami.
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, 3252 NE First Ave., Miami.
Sea Level, 3030 Holiday Dr. (Marriott Harbor Beach), Fort Lauderdale.
The Better Burgers will be on their menus through July, and guests who try them can post pictures on social media tagged with #BetterBurgerProject. The five restaurants with the most “votes” at the end of the project will win a trip to cook their burgers at the James Beard House in New York this fall.
Or, you could try your hand at making them at home. The chefs have provided their recipes (Sea Level’s recipe was not available), which can be scaled up or down depending on how many you’re serving.
Evan S. Benn is food editor of the Miami Herald. On Twitter and Instagram: @EvanBenn.
Southwest Beef and Mushroom Burger
1 medium shallot, diced
6 slices pickled serrano peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon ancho powder or chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
28 ounces ground angus beef
8 ounces mushrooms (shiitake or crimini), finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a food processor, pulse shallot, peppers, barbecue sauce, ancho powder, chipotle powder and cumin until a chunky purée forms. Transfer purée to a medium bowl and mix in ground beef and mushrooms. Don’t overmix. Form mixture into 4 patties; let patties rest in refrigerator for approximately 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper, and grill to desired temperature.
Burgers can be topped with jack cheese, roasted poblano peppers, corn huitlacoche and BBQ sauce. Serves 4.
Source: Chef Cesar Zapata, The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions.
Chuck-Short Rib Mushroom Burger
3 1/2 ounces ground chuck
3 1/2 oounces ground short rib
3 ounces ground and cooked crimini mushrooms
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
2 ounces caramelized onions
2 pieces Bibb lettuce
1 ounce sundried tomato aioli
1 brioche burger bun
Combine first five ingredients and form into a patty. Reserve, chilled, until ready to grill. Cook to desired doneness and build on brioche with onions, lettuce and aioli (or mayo). Serves 1.
Source: Chef Timon Balloo, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill.
1 kabocha squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 quart red quinoa, cooked
1 tablespoon cumin
Kosher salt and pepper
4 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
1 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup beet purée
Cut squash in half. Pour olive oil on cut side and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast in a 400-degree oven until fork-tender, about 45 minutes. Scoop out insides and blend until puréed. Meanwhile, cook the onions in a sauté pan with a little oil over low heat until they begin to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the quinoa to the onions and season with cumin, salt and pepper. Next, add the aji paste, carrots, beet and reserved squash purées. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid reduces down and the mixture starts to dry out, about 15 minutes. Makes 20 2-ounce patties.
When ready to cook, take a 2-ounce portion of the quinoa mixture, and bread it with flour, egg and panko crumbs, then fry in oil until crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Serve each slider on a buttered and toasted mini brioche bun, and top with Roma tomato, caramelized onion, grilled portobello mushroom and alfalfa sprouts.
Source: Chef Diego Oka, La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental.
2 cups Port
1 cup reduced veal stock
1/4 cup honey
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 pounds ground beef
2 1/2 pounds ground veal
2 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 1/2 pounds sautéed oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
Make a sauce by reducing the Port by half, then add reduced veal stock, honey and thyme, and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, sauté crimini mushrooms with olive oil and garlic until they’ve released their liquid. Add mushrooms to sauce.
Mix the beef, veal, pork, mushrooms, salt and pepper together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until well combined. Portion into patties and cook to desired temperature. Place in a focaccia bun and top with sauce. Additional toppings can include piquilla peppers, arugula, cipollini onions and melted tetilla cheese. Makes 20 8-ounce patties.
Source: Chef Diego Solano, Bulla Gastrobar.