Friday, November 13, 2015

Lucky 13?  Now With Lentil Burgers

I had no idea that today was Friday the 13th until I saw headlines on the news pages be fair, it was news to me that it was already Friday.  (It's been a busy week and I've had a bit of a cold so I haven't paid the least attention to the calendar.)  This Friday 13th stuff is a superstition that I've never been bothered about anyway.  

Really I was just happy that it was a bright sunny morning--that's always inspiring.  And my inspiration today lead me to attempting a recipe that has been sitting on my work table nagging for attention all week:  Tex-Mex Lentil Burgers.  I've always wanted to try making lentil burgers and this recipe seemed fairly easy.....but, frankly, the name seems misleading because I really can't see anything Tex-Mex about it.

Tex-Mex Lentil Burgers

1 pound brown lentils
1 large onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces olive oil
2 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs

In a large pot, bring lentils to boil in a gallon of water, then simmer, uncovered, until very tender, about 25 minutes.  Strain lentils; in a large bowl mash to porridge-like consistency.  Puree onion in food processor.  Add onion, salt, pepper, and oil to lentils and mix well.  Slowly add bread crumbs until the mixture can form soft patties.  Make 8 to 10 patties.  Roll each in a light coating of bread crumbs.  Saute over medium heat in butter-coated pan until heated through.  Top with pepper jack or other cheese, guacamole, alfalfa sprouts, and tomato and serve in a bun.  Makes 8 to 10 five ounce burgers.  

(Recipe from:  Guideposts Magazine, October 2015)

Now I can't make anything without messing about with it a bit, and this recipe has only salt and pepper for seasoning--that really just won't do, so I dashed in some Twin Trees Gardens Cajun Seasoning and Soul Food Seasoning.  (No, I did not measure.  Bad me but I just dashed a fair amount in there--at least a teaspoon of each, maybe two.)  Please note that I did NOT add any salt or pepper; there's some of both in the seasoning mixtures and I'd rather adjust saltiness to taste when serving so as to avoid adding too much.

I also objected to the amount of olive oil.  6 ounces = 3/4 cup.  That seems rather a lot, but I added it anyway.....well, I added 2/3 cup because the 2/3 measuring cup was sitting on top of the pile of measures.  (I keep an odd assortment of measuring cups in a bin.  Yes, that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it; the amounts are similar enough.  Right?)

I did not cook the lentils in a gallon of water simply because it was taking too long for the filter to give me that much water, and I didn't feel like hovering over the sink waiting.  2 1/2 quarts did the job just fine.  25 minutes cooking time was insufficient;  35 minutes was about right.  Mashing the lentils with an old-fashioned potato masher was fun.....for the first 30 seconds.  After two minutes of effort, I resorted to an electric mixer instead (which splattered little lentil bits over a six foot radius but never mind; I needed to clean the kitchen anyway).

8 to 10 five-ounce burgers?  Who are they kidding?  No way.  I'm not sure how a mixture can be both a bit too dry and a bit too slushy at the same time but this lentil stuff is.  Trying to form large burgers from it was just not happening.  I settled on using 1/3 cup amounts and formed 20 smaller reasonably-sized burgers.  I put the vast majority of the burgers on cookie sheets lined with plastic wrap and popped them in the freezer.  Later today, when they are frozen hard, I'll move them to a freezer container.

I kept a couple of the burgers for lunch, and fried them up in butter (which seemed like not-the-best idea given the amount of olive oil already in there) and coated with bread crumbs as directed.  They did not hold together all that well and getting them out of the pan without breakage was pretty much impossible.....but I hid the damage by putting cheese on top to melt.  (The picture did not turn out as well as I would have prefered; apologies.)  I think that I'd like to try topping the burgers with some sauteed bell pepper slices to give them a bit more character but I was just using what was in the house so there were no peppers today, and I didn't have any bread or buns either so I had the burgers plain with some sliced roma tomato on the side.

End result:  not too bad; it's edible.  The texture is okay.  The flavor is okay.  But it's lacking in some areas, and it really is not Tex-Mex by any stretch of the imagination.  Give it a C+.

Would I do this again?  Yeah, I would like to try it with some variations.  But that won't happen soon because I'm gonna be a long time using up the 18 burgers that are sitting in the freezer--a bit too many for one person to get through quickly.  I'll cook a smaller amount of lentils next time.

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