Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mushroom Swiss Burger

I tried to stay away from the totally obvious recipes this week for mushroom week but there is one I can't pass up.

The mushroom Swiss burger is a classic.  It's on menus, dinner plates and backyard grills everywhere.  

But first, it's mushroom week...

Today's topic is the care and handling of fresh mushrooms

Before I could understand how to care for harvested mushrooms, I had to learn about what happens to them once harvested.  What surprised me is that the mushroom is very much like meat when harvested.   At first, it's a lot like dry aging beef.  Enzymes react and start breaking down the mushroom into flavorful amino acids and the 'shrooms start to lose moisture, concentrating flavor.  

The problem is that occurs much faster than the long periods of dry aging beef, it happens in something more like 4 days (McGee 9489) instead of the month or more that beef needs.  After that, the process begins to shift from "aging" to "deterioration".  That is why buying fresh mushrooms from a local source is better than buying "fresh" mushrooms that you have no idea how long it took to get from farm to shelf. 

The good news is that you can slow that whole process with a two practices.
  • Keep it cool, fool.  Refrigeration at 40-45f slows the activity of the enzymes and will prolong the life of your mushrooms.  
  • Keep it dry, guy.  As mushrooms age, they will give up moisture.  While that does concentrate the flavors, moisture condensing on the surface of the mushrooms invite bacteria which begins spoilage.  If you buy one of those cellophane wrapped pack of mushrooms, take them out, and store them in a closed paper bag.  
Speaking of dry, that's another area of controversy.  I have read, heard, and been told a kajillion times NOT to wash mushrooms because they'll soak up all that water, be mushy, and bland.  So I was surprised to learn that it is fine to wash them in water as long as you use them immediately afterwards (FlavorBible 15282 and McGee 9490). 

Truth be told, I wasn't even going to post a recipe for this because it's just a burger.  Grill your burger, throw Swiss cheese on it and top with some sauteed mushrooms.

Grilled Mushroom Swiss Burger
Serves 4
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 4 slices baby Swiss cheese 
For the burger patties
  • 1.25 lb ground chuck
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp whatever signature seasoning you want to add
For the mushrooms
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, finely minced
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill set up for direct heat to 450f.
  2. Mix the burger ingredients together and form into four 5 ounce patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Grill patties for 4 minutes per side. Top with a slice of cheese during the last minute.
  4. Remove and keep warm.
  5. Place a skillet on the grill and melt the butter.  
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook 6 minutes, tossing frequently.  
  7. Add the garlic and parsley, cook two more minutes or until the mushroom liquids are mostly evaporated.
  8. Serve burgers topped with the 'shrooms.