I do think vegetarian meals can be amazing. I've mentioned (oh about 600,000 times) how much I adore Mediterranean food, and Italian food in particular. The Med has a food culture that celebrates all ingredients and isn't afraid to make vegetables the centre of a dish, as opposed to our preference for making them an accompaniment. There is one area though where I am yet to be convinced that vegetables can beat meat - BURGERS!
I recently decided to make cheese and bean burgers as an experiment. Even the concept of a meat-free burger was alien to my diners:
No was no response after that. Nevertheless, I persevered.
They were a little fragile and collapsible, mainly because I'd forgotten to buy leeks and substituted with onions. The consistency was all wrong, but they were at least quite tasty. Something was missing though, and it was that deep, thick squish you get on biting into a meat burger. Maybe if I'd given them a different name, cheese and bean patties for example, they wouldn't have been a disappointment. But burgers just aren't meant to be that soft. You need that satisfying feeling of resistance as you chew down and force your jaw to do some work.
A few weeks later I decided I wanted proper burgers, and by proper I meant made of meat. I came across a recipe for Scandinavian style beef burgers. The recipe wasn't from my latest cookbook acquisition, but one found online. What makes them slightly different to standard burgers is that they have courgette, carrot and dill in them. They also have beer in them, which I supposee should have been an authentic Scandinavian branded beer, but all I had lying around was a bottle of Old Peculier.
They look good, yes? They really were lovely and definitely had that satisfying chew factor. Yeah, they could have done with a little more oil and salt (I was afraid of over salting them - not something I'm usually shy about) and I made the schoolgirl error of forgetting to oil the grid, but overall they were delicious. Now I'm gagging for a burger, and something tells me a little paper-wrapped parcel from McDonald's just won't do.