Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Love a Challenge (or veganizing Paula Deen)

The other day I was catching up on Erik Marcus' podcasts and on the September 10 show he mentioned Paula Deen's Big Mike Burger, only because of how incredibly NOT VEGAN it is. He also said he'd like to see someone try veganizing this gluttonous creation so I thought I'd give it a whirl. On the one hand, there's only so much you can do in veganizing something that's all beef and butter. Go ahead, click on the link and see what's in this thing. Call it morbid curiosity but since the Food Network doesn't see fit to publish nutrition information for their recipes (at least not this one) I went to and punched in some numbers. A single double-decker burger has around 1200 calories, including almost 100 grams of fat, 35 grams of which is saturated fat. It also has 250 mg of cholesterol and 1500 mg of sodium. That is truly a heart attack on a plate if ever I've seen one. But if you really want to see something scary check out all the 5-star reviews - and realize that these people are serious.

Well I'm not against gluttony every once in a while as long as it's vegan-style, so this evening I spent some time in the kitchen coming up with this:

I'll call it the Big V Burger - there's not an animal product in sight. I started by making homemade buns from a recipe I've mentioned before. Both burger recipes are adapted from a back issue of Vegetarian Times (July, 2000).

Tempeh-Pecan Burgers

1 8-oz. package tempeh
2 Tbs. vegan margarine (like Earth Balance)
1 c. pecans
1/4 c. each diced onion, red bell pepper and celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Braggs (or soy sauce)
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut the tempeh into a large dice, cover with water in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes. Put half the tempeh into a food processor and crumble the other half into a large bowl. Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat and add pecans, onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until the veggies start to soften then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Add this concoction to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients and process until everything is well blended and fairly smooth. Add to the bowl with the remaining tempeh and mix well. Form into 4 equal-size patties and fry in a little canola oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until nice and brown.

Seitan Burgers

8 oz. seitan
2 Tbs. vegan margarine
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, diced
1/2 c. diced onion
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. cumin
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. flour
1 Tbs. cornmeal
1 oz. vegan cheddar, cut into small dice

Coarsely chop seitan, put in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat and add shiitakes, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until the veggies start to soften then add the garlic, salt, thyme, cumin and pepper and cook another minute or so. Add this concoction to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients (except cheddar) and process until everything is well blended and chopped fine. Transfer to a bowl, mix a little with your hands then form into 4 equal-size balls. Press your finger into the middle of each ball, add some vegan cheese, close the ball around the cheese and flatten into a patty. Fry in a little canola oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until nice and brown.

For the "Special Sauce", we sort of followed Paula Deen's recipe but just reduced it by a quarter (because that's all you really need). Just mix all this stuff together: 1/4 c. vegan mayo, 2 Tbs Dijon mustard, 1 Tbs. ketchup, 1 Tbs. agave, 1 tsp. minced jalapeño, and a dash of hot sauce.

To serve, cut 2 buns in half. On the bottom half of one, put a tempeh-pecan burger. Top with another bottom bun half and then add a seitan burger. Top that with some of the sauce, a slice of tomato, lettuce, red onions and a pickle. Top it off with the top half of a bun and enjoy a cholesterol free indulgence. (I didn't figure out the nutrition data for my vegan version but I guarantee it's a far cry better for you than Paula's.)

Now for those of you who don't have such a big mouth you could do what I did for Darlene and make a single-decker sandwich with half of each kind of burger. As we noticed when I cut them in half, the soy cheese inside the seitan burger doesn't really melt that much but still we thought it looked cool.


Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

Love your idea of the half and half. I know exactly what I'll be making tomorrow with the tempeh I just purchased with no clue what I wanted to do with it. thanks!

I've also been meaning to try that bun recipe since the first time you posted about it.

kudos to you. I can't tell you how many times I've found m'self open-mouthed, mesmerized by PD and her blatant disregard for anything healthy or remotely cruelty-free.

Cherie said...

That does look cool on the seitan burger! YOu rock for making this!

the pleasantly plump vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ew, Paula Deen. How was the nutritional info on the veg version?

Christine said...

wow, I looked at the original recipe and comments, and man, talk about YUCK! After your nutrional estimation, I can't believe people make that a "family" dinner!

Your version looks much yummier to my eyes :)

speedvegan said...

well done (no pun intended)!

i am always looking for new veg-burger ideas. i will try these sometime. thanks for sharing !

Melody Polakow said...

What a great post! It is truly shocking to see the numbers of the food that people eat... wow.. how incredibly gross.

Mihl said...

1200 calories? I can't believe that people would actually eat that crap!
Your burger indeed looks much better! Thanks for posting the recipe.

bazu said...

Good for you- these burgers look awesome!
I'm afraid to follow the link to the actual Paula Deen recipe because it's early in the morning, I haven't eaten anything, and dry heaving is just not fun.

G said...

This burger looks really good. Paula Deen.....don't get me started!!! Her cooking show should be banned as far as Im concerned, absolutely BAD food/recipes, whether someone eats meat or not! Yikes.....

springsandwells said...

wow. what a veganizing adventure! the vegan version looks much better!

I also love that you had the care to accommodate the small-mouthed among up - I am one of them! :)

By the way, I used this recipe for the apple pie filling - it was easy & fun. (I used cornstarch instead of "clear jel")

it actually looks like that site has some pretty cool information about canning all sorts of stuff.
:) amey

Rural Vegan said...

I dared to follow the PD recipe link. Oh me hell: 3 pounds of beef, 6 slices of bacon, 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of mayo! I'm amazed she didn't throw some potato chips or lard in there for good measure. Who eats this?!

I'm definitely going to try your tempeh burger recipe. Thanks!

Vegan_Noodle said...

I think you win the challenge!

Anonymous said...

that works out to 4 oz of beef per person NOT 3 pounds like ya'll try to make it seem.

VeggieGirl said...

whoo hoo!! kudos to you for proving that ANY recipe can be veganized - not only will it be infinitely healthier (even if it is a decadent dish), but it's 100% cruelty-free; and THAT'S the beauty of vegan cooking/baking :0)

tamara said...

geeze... 1200 calories is nearly my daily intake.. and that's just in ONE burger?! people are nuts.

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

This reminds me of the new "Pizone" from Pizza Hut. "One Pound of Cheese" the commercial screams. How disgusting. Thanks for this post!!

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Melisser - it's harder to get the nutrition info for our version because for example we made our own seitan and used other ingredients that aren't in the nutrition site I used. Having said that, my best guess for the Big V is around 700 calories and 49 g of fat (6g saturated). Still not something you'd want to do every day but a lot better than Paula's heart attack.

Oh, and anonymous - last time I checked 3 pounds of beef divided by 6 servings is 8 oz. per serving. Plus some butter, mayo, bacon, and cheese = NOT good for you no matter how you slice it.

Chris said...

And veggiegirl you're right. I do believe that vegan food is healthier and that's certainly true in this case but the fact that we didn't directly contribute to the horrendous suffering of animals for our meal is really what it's all about.

Vanessa said...

What's sad is that (many!) people do eat things like that. Maybe Ms. Deen is doing it for fame or for the warm feeling of cooking for other people (which I know we can all agree on) but the poor people who eat this way without any consideration for the environment, the animals, or even their own bodies. You might as well blindfold them and stick dirt down their throats for as much thought as they're giving to that meal.

In any case, you've done such a creative job here Chris and it tickles me that you decided to take the challenge. Now, just tell me - which of your burgers are better?

Chris said...

well said Vanessa...

I think I liked the seitan burger better. It was definitely more firm - plus with the vegan cheese inside... mmmm...

Z-chan said...

Oh god..I'm salivating

Anonymous said...

Now why not challenge Erik Marcus to veganize that horrible turducken atrocity Paula Deen parades out for Thanksgiving... :P,,FOOD_9936_32327,00.html

Isil Simsek said...

I tried the tempeh-pecan burger upon your suggestion.It was tasty!Thank you!

Joi said...

I was just wondering what I could use my tempeh for! I am going to making the tempeh pecan burgers tonight. I love the idea of pecans in then. Yummy!!

Thank you for sharing your recipe.