Relying on food banks to get by shouldn’t be something that causes embarrassment. Having them around surely helps in this current economy. Let’s take a moment to think about how it’s possible to get creative by using the items provided. Just because the food is free doesn’t mean it has to look like a cheap meal. Today, we’re going to take things received from a local food bank and turn it into something restaurants charge a pretty penny for.
Gather all your ingredients, throw on your apron, and embrace your confidence…
- Ground beef
- Worcestershire Sauce, or some BBQ, or steak sauce
- Your favorite seasonings
- Mushrooms (fresh or a can)
- Any cheese you have on hand
- Toppings of your choice
Mushroom cheese burgers are on the menu… might even throw on some bacon (pretty sure there’s a couple slices in the fridge). Time for the fun to begin! Grab yourself a big bowl and mix up the beef, liquid ingredients, and seasonings. Don’t use too much of the liquid though, otherwise your burgers won’t be very “burger-like”... been there, done that. While it’s hard to determine if your burger will have enough of the flavor you intend it to, smelling it always proves helpful. If you plan on using bacon, cook it in the same pan (at the same time) as your burgers. That extra flavor kick is over the top! When using fresh mushrooms, throw them in the pan after you flip that meat patty the first time… for canned ones, don’t add them until after you put the cheese on top. Voila - we’re halfway to the most perfect burger EVER!
Most of the items being used today have come from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. My pantry has been raided to see what else we can come up with. The goal here is to take what you currently have on hand and expand on it. It’s surprising what can be created with ingredients you’d never think could blend together… time to improvise!
Now that you have the patties made, get that pan nice and hot (with a little oil or butter) on your stove. You wanna hear that meat sizzle the second they’re dropped in. As for the whole controversy of smashing the meat with a spatula - do what you want. I normally press down on it a little bit AFTER the first flip… those juices add extra liquid into the pan and the aroma is amazing. Nothing like salivating over a half-cooked burger. Hold back the temptation to dive in… you’re almost there.
- To those reading this who steer clear of red meat, there’s a turkey/chicken burger spin on this at the end of the article (stay tuned for that specific recipe in the near future)
Instead of pacing in your kitchen, spend the time after that first flip to prep your toppings. If you have the fresh mushrooms on hand, toss them in now… to give a little zest as they’re simmering in the meat juices, squirt a little lime juice on ‘em. Go ahead - slice the tomato and onion, grab the lettuce out of your crisper drawer. After doing all of that, now is the perfect time to slap that cheese on those burgers… we’re going with Colby Jack today! Turn off the burner, cover that pan, and embrace less than 2 minutes of patience.
The hardest decision you'll have to make is what kind of bread you plan to use - while burger buns are the “norm”, I can assure you that an English Muffin is even better. Whatever you decide, you’re about to embark on a taste bud explosion… literally. Take this moment to pat yourself on the back. You have earned every last calorie this burger has to offer… you took those ingredients from free to fancy in no time. Bon appetit…
As promised to those readers who don’t eat red meat, you can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken. One thing I quickly learned was that some of the sauces I’ve mentioned don’t pair well with poultry burgers. Switch those sauces up with some teriyaki and you’ll be highly impressed… especially if you whip up some avocado ranch to spread on your bun. I know, it does sound intriguing… go give it a whirl.
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