Of all the American food groups, burgers may be the least likely candidate for genius health food trends. That’s what we thought until we met the blended burger. Blended burgers use 25% less meat because they’re blended with plant-based ingredients — mostly mushrooms.
While a grass-fed burger can be a great choice on occasion as a source of clean protein, essential omega fats and other powerful nutrients, we know that most Americans aren’t eating meat this way. Meat consumption in the United States has nearly doubled in the last century, and studies show that this increase in meat consumption has a direct link to a few crucial health and environmental issues.
The Blended Burger Project
The Blended Burger Project began as a culinary collaboration between the Mushroom Council and the Culinary Institute of America. The James Beard Foundation has now also partnered with the Council on what has become the Blended Burger Project — an annual challenge in which chefs compete to create a gourmet burger made with at least 25% mushrooms. The project’s purpose is to encourage chefs to “create a healthier, more sustainable, and tastier burger that can be enjoyed by consumers across the country”.
The blended burger is still a burger, and it’s still made of meat, but it’s more considerate of our health and our environment — and possibly, even more delicious than a traditional patty. “The umami in mushrooms blends seamlessly with the burger to increase delicious flavor, moisture, and consistency,” shared Jehangir Mehta, NYC restaurateur and Michelin-named “New York’s Most Sustainable Chef.”
Deliciousness aside, the sustainability factor of this burger concept is what really gets us excited. According to a study in the World Research Institute, Americans eat 10 billion burgers annually. If 30% of the beef in every burger was replaced with mushrooms it could save as many emissions as taking 2.3 million cars off the road, conserve as much water as 2.6 million Americans use at home each year, and reduce agricultural land demand by an area larger than Maryland. Additionally, according to a 2017 study, mushroom production itself is a highly sustainable endeavor, as it requires relatively low water, energy, and land space.
Where To Get A Blended Burger
This year marks the 5th annual celebration of the Blended Burger Project. Each year, The James Beard Foundation calls on chefs from all across the country to join in on the initiative. There are participants in pretty much every state, ranging from food trucks to five-star restaurants.
We’re sharing a recipe from one of our local favorites below. The Tuck Room in LA serves up The Forestiere Burger. Created by chef Sherry Yard, this blended burger combines earthy portabello mushrooms, shallots, and garlic confit to create a satisfying, partly plant-based patty.
How To Make Your Own
The Chalkboard isn’t a vegan-only site. It’s important to us to embrace a wide variety of healthy diets, and so many of our readers identify their diets as “plant-based”, meaning, like us, most of you are looking for ways to reduce animal product consumption in meaningful, yet balanced ways. The blended burger concept seems to be the best of both worlds. Learn how to make a blended burger with the recipe below…
The Forestiere Blended Burger
makes 4 burgers
1/2 pound portabello mushrooms, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 Tbsp garlic confit, puréed (roasted garlic works too)
2 Tbsp blended oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbsp tarragon, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, minced
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 1/4 pound 80/20 ground beef
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, finely ground
4 hamburger buns
optional toppings: cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, mix mushrooms, shallots, garlic purée, salt, and pepper with the blended oil. Place mushroom mixture on a parchment-lined sheet tray and roast for 15 minutes. Let mushroom mixture cool.
In a large bowl, add minced tarragon and thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and sherry vinegar. Add the cooled mushroom mixture and let marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Pulse mushroom mixture in food processor; do not purée, leave some texture. Combine the mushroom mixture with the ground beef until combined. Add in the panko bread crumbs and mix until just incorporated.
Weigh out four 8-ounce portions and shape into patties; these can also be made into 4-ounce patties and served as doubles.
Grease a large heavy skillet and set over medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the patties and cook to your favorite state of doneness, about 4 minutes per side for a medium-rare burger. Top as desired and serve on toasted buns.
We can imagine most of our carnivorous friends and family members embracing this more balanced burger if well-executed. What do you think?