Month of Burgers, Days 3 and 4: sparing the steers

24 Jul

Some might argue that a non-beef burger doesn’t qualify, but I’m making the rules, so I will include them. Besides, just because you don’t eat red meat, or any meat, doesn’t mean you don’t get a hankering for a juicy patty of mince between some buns. Last night I had a turkey burger from Birchwood Kitchen, which is one of those cozy, everything-is-“house”made-or-locally-sourced, $10-sandwich sort of joints. It’s like someone read Stuff White People Like and decided to open a restaurant. They even have homemade (I mean, housemade) lemonade infused with unlikely flavors like cucumber and rosemary. I really love their sandwiches, so I’d been curious about the burgers, which are only served after 5 pm. Here it is, accompanied by housemade (natch) chips:

The problem with many turkey burgers is that they end up dry, gamy, or rubbery. The Birchwood’s version was moist but pleasantly light, which is what you look for after two days of red meat. Pickled onions provided both onioniness and tanginess. The bun was nothing special, which is a bit surprising, because these guys are usually all about the bread.

Today I worked up an appetite hunting wedding dresses at Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides, which really should be called “Shuffling of the Brides” or maybe “Queuing of the Brides.” There’s not much running when you’re trying to get hundreds of women (and maybe two men) into a store. Inside was like a southeast Asian bazaar, except everyone was trading the same thing. We did find a great dress for my friend, though. Afterwards her mom treated us to a lovely lunch at Atwood Cafe, where I split a duck confit salad (awesome) and a mushroom-rice burger. 

Veggie burgers are tricky, too; you want to match the heartiness of a beefburger, without using actual beef. Texturized soy protein is too crumbly to bind into a patty, and tofu is finicky and doesn’t hold together very well (unless you add pork, which solidly defeats the point). And then there’s the flavor issue: there are any number of vegetables you can mash into a patty, but few that give that meaty oomph called umami. Luckily, mushrooms deliver umami in high doses (what do you think makes truffles so yummy?). I thought Atwood’s version was a bit starchy, more like a mushroom risotto cake on a bun, but that might be because I had my friend’s awesome (and less grain-based) mushroom burgers only a week before. Still, this is a veggie burger to be proud of, and I hope more restaurants undertake the challenge of the creating a housemade veggie burger instead of relying on pre-made patties. Look, you wouldn’t try to pass off a frozen beef patty on beefburger eaters„ so why relegate vegetarians to the culinary ghetto of the Gardenburger?

Tomorrow: Does a fried egg make a burger breakfast food?

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