Leigha and I have been trying to decrease the environmental impact of our cooking and dining. That takes the form of a lot of things – composting our food waste, eschewing plastic grocery bags and packages when possible, and eating more vegetarian meals. As I covered in a previous post, we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to replace burgers in our lineup with a vegetarian option. We’ve been going with mushroom smashburgers recently, since the crispy edge and somewhat meaty taste of the smashburger replicate beef to a certain extent, but there is definitely something missing and you always know you’re eating mushrooms.
So when Leigha and I saw that Target was now selling the Impossible Burger (which is often touted as the best substitute for ground beef on the market, and used to only be available to restaurants), we decided to try out. And being the experimental chef I am, I wanted to see the best way to prepare these burgers from the typical methods. So I split the .75 lb package into four patties – one 1/3 pounder (for a thicker burger), one 1/4 pound (for a more normal fast food-sized burger), and two 1/10 pounders (for smashburgers). I cooked them all up, topped them with American cheese, and put them all on toasted buns with ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.
The verdict? The mid-sized option is definitely the winner here. The Impossible Burger does not brown in the same way a traditional beef patty does, so the smashburger does not have the same texture or flavor as the regular burger or even the mushroom burger. It also cooks a lot more quickly than a beef burger, which makes it hard to preserve anything resembling a pink middle that a medium-rare burger might bring. There also isn’t the same fat content that I would look for in a thicker burger, which would usually be made partially of a more rich and expensive cut, like short rib. However, the 1/4 pounder cooked up pretty much exactly as I would expect a beef burger to, and tasted about the same (the biggest comparison in our house was to Culvers, which is a nice fast food chain here in Wisconsin). With the price of Impossible Beef being what it is ($8 for our 3/4 lb package), I understand why chains and home cooks are hesitant to ditch beef entirely, but if you are looking to move away from beef and the cattle industry a little more and can afford it, I think it’s definitely worth trying out.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’ll be back next week with some recipes from the big day.