When the James Beard Foundation announced its second annual Blended Burger Project in May, chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub in Orange quickly rose to the call. The contest posed the challenge of creating an artisanal burger in which at least 25 percent of the patty is ground mushrooms, promoting the blended burger concept as a more healthful and arguably tastier version of the classic beef burger. Daniels’ creative calibrations resulted in the Haven Breakfast Burger, a menu entrée that proved so popular during the competition period it remains on the menu.
“We process mushrooms and season it as pork chorizo with our same custom grind … you’re not changing what the burger tastes like. The mushroom adds umami, and it still tastes like meat,” Daniels explains. (By the way, that “custom grind” is typically 65 percent chuck, 15 percent short rib and 30 percent pork fatback.)
Each burger is prepared to order and topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese, thick-cut bacon braised in maple syrup and coffee, and a fresh fried egg sourced from GoneStraw Farms in Riverside. All this is neatly sandwiched into a fresh double-egg-washed brioche bun from OC Baking Co. Served with fresh arugula and a distinctively bright housemade ketchup, the burger provides deep mid-morning satisfaction, as it hits every hearty breakfast note yet could be enjoyed easily any time of day.
The lower-fat level of the mushroom blend gave us license to pair it with a “breakfast beer.” In our case the Sumatra Mountain Brown by Founders Brewing Co. It’s the stuff of … dare we say … champions.
Burger Blend: Chorizo-Seasoned
5 pounds sliced white mushrooms
4 tbsp. salt
5 tsp. ancho chili powder
3 tbsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. chipotle powder
4 tsp. smoked serrano powder
2 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3 tbsp. dry oregano
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
3 tbsp. tequila
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup achiote paste
Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Toss mushrooms in the spice blend and sweat in a large pan, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat. Cook until mushrooms release all their liquid and mixture begins to stick to pan. Deglaze with the tequila/achiote/vinegar mixture. Allow to simmer until almost dry. Pour out onto a baking sheet and chill. Once cool, grind through a meat grinder or food processor. Add as 20 percent of whatever blend of meat cuts you choose. Refrigerate remainder for use later.
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