The title of this post, Broccoli Burger or Big Mac, isn’t necessarily an either/or, but rather a jumping-off point for the February Creative Cooking Crew challenge, Not Your Mickey D Burger.
First up. The Big Mac. Or Le Big Mac, as John Travolta and Samuel Jackson say in Pulp Fiction. You guys, you guys. Those three little words.
You know a Big Mac is as ubiquitous and iconic as ice cream. Whether you eat beef or choose not to, whether you’re ten or sixty, whether you live in America or Saudi Arabia, you probably know what a Big Mac is.
When the Creative Cooking Crew put out its February challenge, Not Your Mickey D Burger, I couldn’t help but think about a Big Mac. Food and memories go together like that. But. I don’t eat Big Macs anymore and things were a little different back then.
In 1974 when McDonald’s created the 2 All-Beef Patties jingle, a Big Mac cost 85 cents. Today, in 2015, the average cost of a Big Mac in the US is $4.62.
In the ’70s we had President Nixon and Watergate, Vietnam, Saturday Night Live, Women’s Liberation and the Great Recession. We had sky-high gas prices, the auto-industry slump and a respect for authority at an all time low. We had round silver glittery disco balls for dancing the night away. We had Donna Summer, The Bee Gees and “Le Freak.” We had smoke-filled stadiums where we rocked to Bob Seger, AC/DC, and The Who. We light Bic lighters to prompt encores. The prevailing motto was “Sex, Drugs, Rock-n-Roll.” Well…that was my motto anyway. Movies of the day included Peter Benchley’s Jaws and Stephen King’s Carrie. Both terrified, thrilled and entertained us. Music and movies, like all art and food, speaks to us in a visceral sense.
Back then, the seeds for the Food Revolution had sprouted in California with food-activist and pioneer Chef Alice Waters. We had food in boxes and cans. Julia Child was a television sensation. Representative of the food industry in corporate America, McDonald’s introduced the Big Mac in Pittsburgh-my hometown no less, and the 2 All-Beef Patties jingle, to assure consumers that while they may not be able to fill their car tank with gasoline, they can fill their bellies with a pimped out Big Mac. Smart. It hit us right where it mattered most. Our wallets, and our need and desire for hot, lip-smacking food.
Because regardless of the decade, the economic challenges, music or movies, hot food offers warmth, strength, enjoyment, memories, nutrition and safety.
Fast forward to 2015, forty some years since the introduction of the Big Mac and its McJingle. Gas prices hover around $2 (more or less) a gallon, lower than they’ve been in years. The American auto industry is no longer a pressing challenge of the day either. Modern day challenges are far graver. President Obama, the first black president in the US, deals with war, poverty, terrorism, health care, immigration and racism, and not in that order. Today’s music, a smorgasbord of pop, rock, r&b, country and electronic incorporates modern day issues, too. Topping the charts are Katy Perry, Eminem, and Beyoncé who croon about domestic violence and abuse, black lives and poverty. Movies are animated, based on gaming or relive the past with a focus on character development. We are thrilled, excited, awed and inspired. Sometimes we are disappointed. Scandal is a pervading theme.
Looking through the modern day food lens, issues include food security, Big Ag takeovers, and GMO vs. non GMO battles in courtrooms and on the streets. Celebrity chefs are household names. Cooking food is likened to a spectator sport in many economic circles. Diets evolved from the Healthy Eating Pyramid to MyPlate. Special diets are trendy and include Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Meatless, Atkins, South Beach and everything in between.
We are hungrier more than ever for change. We yearn for sameness.
With the CCC February challenge Not Your Mickey D Burger, we had an opportunity to elevate or transform the components of a traditional beef burger.
My inspiration for this Broccoli Burger came from Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen. She’s got a rockin good Broccoli Slaw recipe on the blog. I subbed, added, and transformed some of the base ingredients of the slaw for my burger challenge. Then I altered the 1974 McJingle. The result: this Broccoli Burger recipe and my version of the jingle below.
Here’s a vintage video of the original 1974 McDonald”s jingle, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, or for old times sake want to relive the 70s for a few minutes.
Here’s my McJingle version: “One broccoli patty, spicy sauce, shallots, cheese, cranberries, almonds on a whole grain ciabatta bun.”
Well, okay. Not exactly the same, but you get the picture.
Anyway. Occasionally I love to eat a traditional thick, juicy beef burger topped with melted American cheese, creamy mayonnaise and a slab of fresh tomato. But usually I don’t. It’s all about less meat these days.
Still. I think back to the days in the early ’70s when I was a young teen. I’d walk to the McDonalds restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh with a pocketful of change for a Big Mac. Those were happy, fun times.
So. Why eat anything if you can’t have fun, make a memory, fill a need or satisfy a desire?
Go ahead, put some Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz, or whatever you like to listen to on your playlist. Then make some memories while you rock out and make Broccoli Burgers.
Cook’s notes: I didn’t think writing out a twenty-five plus step recipe was necessary. Rather I wanted to inspire you to do something different. Something to help you think out of the box. (If that is where you are.)
Here are a few Broccoli Burger cooking tips:
- To prepare the burger, I blanched, chilled, then shredded 3 broccoli stalks and 2 crowns, and one medium carrot. This base with the other ingredients yielded 4 burgers.
- I didn’t rehydrate the dried cranberries. My reasoning: The fruit would hydrate in the raw egg while the formed burgers chill in the refrigerator.
- Toast sliced almonds in a 350 oven for six minutes. Let cool, then crush to coat the burger before frying.
- I used 2 eggs, slightly beaten, to act as a binder, for protein and to add a richer flavor. I added a dash of kirin sauce to the eggs. Alternatively, you can use potatoes, mashed chickpeas, rice, tapioca, quinoa, etc. Think starch.
- I used ¼ cup shredded cheese and ½ cup panko bread crumbs.
- Add chopped fresh rosemary (for a pop of pungent, pine-like flavor) into the scrambled eggs before you add to the broccoli to help distribute the herbs evenly.
- I formed the burgers, then placed them on a cookie rack and chilled them in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
- Make sure the skillet is hot before you cook. After you place the burgers in the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook slowly for an even brown.
- To make the spicy sauce, I added a teaspoon of Sriracha to a ¼ cup of Kraft bottled buttermilk dressing. You can make your own buttermilk dressing, but really, why bother? Kraft does it just like McDonalds does. Perfectly consistent. Plus who needs more to do these days?
- Thoughts on the bun. The whole grain ciabatta seemed like a healthier choice and I love the denseness of ciabatta. But that one bun is a lot of bread. Almond-crusted Broccoli Burgers were delightful and delicious without the sauce, and ciabatta, fyi. However, if you are going to go to all the trouble to make a burger, eat the burger with all the fixins’!
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