Friday, July 8, 2011

A Vegetarian 4th of July (It's Possible!)

As good, patriotic Americans, it is our duty on the 4th of July to drink beer, barbeque meat, and set off illegal explosives in the name of freedom. But as a vegetarian, I, much like many of you out there I’m sure, find the barbeque part of the equation to be a source of a little stress. I want to eat things cooked over open fire and too much lighter fluid too! Isn’t that my right? Well I’m here to say,: IT IS.

Once we decided that my backyard would be the center for the 4th of July festivities this year, I had two immediate thoughts:

1. I need to find a table so we can play beer pong. And,
2. I want this to be a barbeque that represents the hell out of vegetarians.

I decided that first order of business was to create the worlds best homemade veggie burger recipe. Now to me, I mean veggie burgers in the ‘attempts to tastes like meat’ sense, and not the ‘vegetable patty’ sense, although I think the latter has its place in my diet as well. If we’re barbequing, this thing needs to taste like meat. Frozen Boca patties, as much as I like them cooked on a stove stop, do not grill properly due to their frozeness, so I wanted to make patties from scratch in order to cook better. I knew my first place to turn, Gimme Lean: Ground Beef Style. It’s the meat in a tube you can make into other stuff; it’s awesome. After that I looked up real burger recipes, and took bits and pieces I liked from each to concoct, what turned out to be, The Ultimate Fake Burger*. After that I made sure to marinade lots of vegetables overnight for grilling the next day, have a lot of Southern Corn* on hand, and got my own separate charcoal grill so us veggies could cook in peace.

The highlight of my evening, aside from winning every game of beer pong I played, was the compliment I received from a vegetarian guest whom I had not met before. When the burgers where ready, I made sure to announce that any vegetarian present got first dibs, since there were only 8 to go around. A girl came up to me and said “Wow, a vegetarian getting priority at a barbeque. I’ve never had that before.”

Yeah, that’s what I was hoping for.


(Boston Fireworks, as seen from my roof. Pretty baller, right?)

*Recipes featured in this meeting

The Ultimate Fake Burger (Makes about 8 patties)

You will need:

2 tubes of Gimme Lean: Ground Beef Style
1 small Vidalia onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 egg
1 can of chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (the brand I see most often in regular grocery stores is Embassa)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cut beef into cubes to make for easier mixing later. Put in a large bowl.

2. Mince onion as small as possible, add to bowl. Ditto for garlic. Then add egg.

3. Chop 3 large peppers and add to bowl, as well as most or all of the sauce in the can.

4. Mix with your hands. Your hands are going to get messy, believe me. I've been there.

See? Proof. It may be gross, but it was definitely fun, and the most efficient want to go about it, so suck it up. It all washes off in the end.

4. Mold mixture into patties, and get fabulous burgers that look like this:

5. Grill, away from the center, for about 5-7 minutes on each side. If they get a little crispy it's ok, it actually adds a good flavor.

And in no time you'll have happy vegetarians eating them, like this:

*Southern Corn

You will need:

12 ears of corn
1 stick of butter, softened
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Peel the corn, but DO NOT remove the husk. You can get rid of the white stringy stuff though.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, and spread on corn.

3. Cover back up with the husk. You can even use a stray piece to tie around the middle, so the husk stays closed while cooking.

4. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning often.

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