Saturday, July 31, 2010

Portabella Mushroom Paleo Burgers with Peppers and Onions

    I do a lot of talking about grass-fed beef around here, and it's about time I posted a recipe for it. As far as steak goes, I'm something of a minimalist: Steak is steak. It tastes like steak, and that's why I like it. No need to douse a good, thick steak with marinade, or, commit steak sacralege and smother it with A1--instead, salt and pepper usually do the trick for me, maybe a little bit of garlic smooshed into it as well.

     Burgers are a bit of a different ball-game though, and adding things to the meat to enhance and complement the flavors are what good burgers are all about. But how, you ask, can you have a Paleo burger without a bun? Easy! Just skip the bun! The meat is the most important part anyway, right?
     Yeah...I know, I know, it's not the same..but I'd much rather have a bunless burger than no burger at all.

    This particular recipe uses portabella (or portobello. or portobella.) mushrooms in it, but if you're not much of a fan of mushrooms, I urge you to maybe give it a try anyway (unless, of course, you reeeeally don't like mushrooms). Most people associate mushrooms with those rubbery pieces of chewy weirdness that come on pizzas--the crappy kind that come in a can. Portabellas are heartier, meatier, and, well, just better tasting in general.  Here, they actually serve a purpose: As I've mentioned before, grass-fed beef is much leaner than regular beef. What that means, is that with a grass-fed burger, the meat tends to dry out quicker on the grill because it doesn't have all the fat to insulate it. Mixing portabellas into the meat keeps the burgers moist and delicious, even if you overcook them a bit.

So check this out, it's like the easiest recipe of all time (originally inspired by this buffalo burger recipe):

Grass-Fed Portabella Mushroom Burgers Topped with Peppers and Onions
Makes: 4
*please be sure to note Mike's impeccable grill marks.*

For Burger:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (you can use whatever onion you like, I'm kind of hooked on yellow ones right now)
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teas. salt
1/4 teas. ground black pepper
1 pound ground grass-fed beef

For Topping:
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/4 c. sliced onion
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  •  Finely chop mushrooms and onion in food processor (or the old-fashioned way, with a knife). You're probably thinking to yourself, "Holy crap! That's a lot of mushrooms!" Do not be alarmed--they will cook down a ton.   
  •  Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to brown and most of the liquid is gone. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool until it is just warm, stirring every couple minutes.
  •  Once mushroom mixture has cooled, mix it into the meat a little bit at a time using your hands (yay!), then make into 4 patties.
  •  After that, preheat grill for high heat. Meanwhile, toss the topping ingredients in a heated skillet with olive oil. If you want, you can just use the same skillet as you did for the mushroom/onion mixture. You want to cook the peppers and onions until they're soft and topping-like. Add salt and pepper to taste, or whatever else you deem appropriate (garlic, maybe?)
  •  While your peppers/onions are cooking, place your burgers on well-oiled grill grates. Remember that grass-fed beef cooks a lot faster than regular beef, so don't expect them to be cooking long. Generally speaking, grass-fed beef takes about 30% less time to cook than conventional beef, and tastes a lot better when cooked between rare and medium, typically (any more than that and it becomes too tough, although this recipe lends quite a bit of moistness to the burgers, so medium well would probably still be good). Sear the burgers over high heat for one minute on each side, and then lower heat and cook and additional 2-3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. (For more tips on how to cook grass-fed beef, click here.)
  •  Remove from grill, and top with peppers and onions, and you're all set. Some people like to wrap their Paleo burgers in a lettuce leaf, but I'm not really big on that. If anything, it just makes me miss the bun more. Another suggestion I've seen would be to make the patties longer and thinner, and have them 'Double-Down style'--i.e. meat-toppings-meat, wrapped in paper. Personally, I'm fine with just having one by itself with some toppings, and feeling fancy-like and proper because I have to eat it with a fork.
A word about this recipe: The night Mike and I had these, neither of us thought that the burgers screamed "MUSHROOM!!"..Instead, the flavor was very subtle, not necessarily a crazy mushroom bonanza. So take that for what it's worth. Enjoy!

       Have any Paleo burger suggestions, toppings, or bun substitutes? Post them here!