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How to perfectly cook plant-based burgers


I’m not going to apologise for liking an Impossible or Beyond burger every now and then. Sometimes I feel like I should, given the criticism they face for being highly processed, not focused on recognisable vegetables, etc. (Cue the self-righteous, “gotcha!” commenters with their tired “Why would vegetarians and vegans want something that reminds them of meat?” questions.)

Instead, I want to focus on how easy they can be to cook and what a boon they can be to plant-based eaters like me who, yes, enjoy the taste and texture of a well-made burger but don’t want it to be made of animals.

America’s Test Kitchen has jumped, ideology-free, into the fray with a book on the best practices for cooking plant-based meats such as these patties.

As much as I love grilling, I’m more likely on any given weeknight to be firing these up in a frying pan on my stovetop, in a kitchen where the air conditioning is strong. So I was drawn to a recipe in Cooking With Plant-Based Meat that turns 340g of the mince variety into eight sliders – just the thing for a get-together with friends (or for multiple meals with my husband).

The recipe includes a few smart tricks: using a glass pie plate or dish and parchment paper to press the patties into neat 7½cm rounds; chilling them first so they are easy to manoeuvre and hold up better; pressing chopped onions onto one side to char as the burger cooks; and adding steam to soften the buns and to help melt the vegan cheese.

With their sweet-and-sour sauce, the diminutive burgers reminded me of those little darlings from my favourite burger joint, but without the same impacts – to the environment and to animals – of meat. Win-win-win.

Vegan pub sliders

This recipe include a smart trick to press the patties into neat rounds

(Tom McCorkle/The Washington Post)

For best results, use a block of plant-based meat mince by Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat rather than patties. Note that in testing, we preferred these with brioche-style slider buns; sweet rolls competed with the slightly sweet/sour sauce. Serve one slider per guest as an appetiser or two as a main.

Make ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days before you cook and assemble the sliders.

Storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 3 days and microwave to reheat.

Total time: 35 minutes

Serves: 4 to 8

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp plant-based mayonnaise

1 tbsp ketchup

1 tsp sweet pickle relish

½ tsp granulated sugar

½ tsp white vinegar

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the sliders:

340g plant-based ground meat, such as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

8 slider hamburger buns

4 slices plant-based cheese, such as Violife cheddar slices

4 tsp vegetable oil, divided

30g finely chopped yellow or white onion, divided

60ml water, divided

Method:

Make the sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

Make the sliders: fold a sheet of parchment paper in half, then unfold it. Using your moistened hands, pinch off and roll the mince into 8 balls (about 45g each). Put one ball on one side of the parchment paper, fold the other side over, and use a clear pie plate or baking dish to press the ball into an even 7½cm-wide patty (using something made of glass helps you see the size of the patty as you’re pressing). Transfer to a platter or a baking tray and repeat with the remaining balls. Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Divide the sauce evenly among the bun bottoms and arrange them on a serving platter. Stack the cheese and cut it into quarters (for 16 pieces).

In a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil until just smoking. Using a spatula, transfer four patties to the pan. Sprinkle a total of 2 tablespoons of the onion over the tops of the patties and press firmly into the patties with the back of the spatula. Cook the patties until well browned on the first side, about 1 minute. Flip the patties and top each with 2 pieces of cheese and add the bun tops. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan beside the patties (being careful to not wet the buns), cover, and cook until the cheese is melted, 90 seconds.

Transfer the sliders to the prepared bun bottoms, tent with aluminum foil, and set aside while cooking the remaining patties. Repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, 4 patties, 2 tablespoons of onion, bun tops and 2 tablespoons of water. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (1 slider), based on 8 | Calories: 168; total fat: 9g; saturated fat: 2g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 486mg; carbohydrates: 17g; dietary fibre: 2g; sugar: 3g; protein:

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

© The Washington Post

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