Tips for grilling great veggie burgers and mock brisket recipe

Heyya Peeps,

Yesterday, a Facebook friend asked, “Do you have any suggestions on how to cook a veggie burger patty and keep it moist off the grill?”

FYI – A veggie burger is a hamburger-style patty that does not contain meat. The patty of a veggie burger may be made, for example, from vegetables, textured vegetable protein (soy meat), legumes, nuts, dairy products, mushrooms, wheat, or eggs. In places such as India where vegetarianism is widespread, McDonald’s and KFC serve veggie burgers. In Sweden, they call it the “McGarden”.

As I told my friend, veggie patties are obviously not my preferred entree, but we’ve done a few in the past. – not bad when grilled crisp and stacked on a Kaiser roll under a half-pound of hot, smoked brisket!

Seriously, we get this request from time to time, usually for wedding receptions and, as much as we live an unapologetically carnivorous lifestyle, we still like everyone to walk away happy and full, whenever possible.

BTW – a quick side-note to some who will likely read this…I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my veggie friends in these situations: Don’t bother trying to rescue me from my meaty ways. It won’t work, because I’m not listening to you…your voice is being drown out by the angelic song of sizzling bacon. 8^)

And to my “meat loving” friends – lighten up! Real men don’t let anyone tell them what to eat. Modern veggie burgers are pretty darn good, make a tasty “healthy” substitute on occasion, and you don’t have to turn in your man-card to enjoy one.

Don’t assume that eating a single mushroom patty means you’re a vegan.

That’s hate talk.

Okay, so…tips for great veggie burgers:

#1 – If they’re frozen, thaw them. Cooking a frozen patty (veggie or meaty) almost insures that the outside is going to to tough, dry, and overcooked, before the inside is done. Now, this means you have to treat them very gently. I suggest thawing AND cooking them using a grilling basket that clamshells…like this one.

#2 – Cook ’em hot and fast. They’re not beef, peeps, they don’t have to have the “bugs” carbonized out of them. No one’s gonna get Mad Mushroom Disease if they’re still moist in the middle. Also, brush the surfaces with a little high-heat oil to promote crisping.

#3 – Mix some veggie broth with a little butter and your favorite dry rub spices, and give the patties a quick brush when they come off the grill. A little salt & pepper makes everything better.

#4 – If you’re not going to eat them immediately, wrap in foil to keep the moisture from steaming out.

Our “mock brisket” made from whole grilled portobello mushrooms is pretty popular too… “I can’t believe it’s not brisket”

Portobello mushrooms, with their meaty, musky flavor and dense, slightly chewy consistency, lend themselves perfectly to smoke and barbeque flavors, as they compliment both, without being overwhelmed.

2 large portobello mushroom (caps)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp brisket rub
2 Tbs sweet bbq sauce
Oak wood chunks or chips

Fire up your grill for 2-Zone cooking.

Clean mushrooms, brush the gill-side with vinegar, and sprinkle with rub. Let sit 10-15 minutes.

Place mushrooms on hot side of the grill, gill-side down, and grill for 10 minutes.

Flip mushrooms, and move to “cool side” of the grill, and lightly with sauce. Add wood chips to the hot side, and tent the mushrooms loosely with a piece of heavy foil with a couple of slits in the top (or just close the lid to your grill, if it has one) to catch some smoke . Grill for an additional 10 minutes.

Now, here’s out secret: The cup-side of the mushroom didn’t get any “char” during grilling, so brush it with a little extra sauce and put it directly above the hottest part of the fire for just a few seconds. You want a little char to simulate the “burnt end” goodness of properly smoked brisket.

Remove mushrooms from the grill and let cool 2-3 minutes gill-side down, on a rack. Slice 1/2 inch thick on a bias, and serve on white bread with a drizzle of warm sauce, just like you would brisket.

To turn this into a killer “brisket” sandwich, thinly sliced your cooked portobello, add 2 slice smoked gouda, (or smoked mozzarella,or smoked cheddar), and serve on two toasted soft kaiser rolls.

Let’s Cook!

– Chef Perry

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