A roving band of humans and other animals, making vegan food in Nashville, TN, Asheville, NC, and points in between.
Friday, October 19, 2012
50 States of MoFo: California: Kind-to-Animal Style
I couldn't take the easy way out with California. Sure, it's been a hotbed of organic and veggie cuisine for many years. Sure, I could have gone all Alice Waters on you and made something fresh and healthy and pretty with avocados from Jason Mraz's farm. But let's take a deeper look...
California is also the home of many of the fast food chains which form the (not-so-)secretly loved underbelly of American cuisine. They may be bad, but there are times when that food is what we want. In-n-Out Burger is a California chain which has not multiplied too far from its motherland, and thus forms a pilgrimage location for visitors. Unfortunately, if those visitors are vegetarian, they have one option (the cheeseburger without the burger) and if they are vegan, pretty much none. In-n-Out is known for its secret menu, one of the most popular items from which is a burger prepared "animal style." I decided to veganize this and see what happened. Given the nature of what I was doing, I opted for processed products. Feel free to ramp it up and make your own burgers and buns, but somehow processed was correct here.
1. THE BURGER: Take a veggie burger (Boca Original Vegan in the photo), and grill it or fry it in a cast iron pan. Spread mustard onto one side of the burger and grill it onto the burger, so it sticks to it and sort of caramelizes. Or do both sides if the burger spirit moves you.
2. THE SPREAD. This is more or less 1000 Island Dressing, and you should follow your favorite recipe for the same. I mixed some vegan mayo (more of this) with ketchup (less of this) and a spoonful of dill pickle relish. (I realize proper 1000 Island should be sweeter, but I am not a huge fan of sweet spreads on burgers, so I went for dill relish instead of sweet and no additional sugar. It was going to be my sandwich after all!)
3. THE BUNS. Toast on both outside and inside in the oven or in a skillet or on a grill. The toasty-crunchiness is important.
4. THE CHEESE. You could make some Miyoko Schinner homemade cheese which actually melts. However, I used FYH Cheddar, which remains reliably solid. I put it on top of the burgers, with a cover over the skillet, for a minute or two. It was warm and soft and pleasant on the burger, although not melty.
5. THE ONIONS. Chop a sweet onion, and put it in a skillet with oil and a little salt. Caramelize slowly until dark and sweet. (Do this earlier. It takes forever, but the result is worth it.)
6. THE FIXINS. Tomato, lettuce, pickle slices
To assemble, cover the bottom toasted bun with spread. Cover the spread with pickle slices (plenty), then (in order going up) tomato, lettuce, mustard-grilled burger, cheese, caramelized onions, more spread (if you can get your cheese to melt, you really want the cheese, onions, and spread mixed together into a delicious mess), then the top toasted bun.
Processed food and all, this was a damn good burger. (Important Notice: You can also make fries animal style by covering french fries with vegan cheese, caramelized onions, and 1000 island dressing. Take that, poutine!)