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Archive for May 28, 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: Bunless Burgers

Most store-bought burger rolls are pretty blah: a form of white bread used to hold the burger.

Earlier, we suggested 25+ alternatives to the burger bun, from baguette to brioche to pretzel roll.

Even when the roll is special, it begs the question: Does the bread serve any purpose other than enabling utensil-free eating?

We love good bread: At a top restaurant, we’d rather have the bread than the meat. But over the years we’ve found that it doesn’t add to the burger experience. Even the best bread gets soggy with all the condiments and burger juice.

Drumroll: Today, we suggest burgers without the bun—at least, without a bread bun.

The original hamburger steak served in the U.S., essentially the Hamburg steak from Hamburg, Germany, was served on a plate with a fork and knife: no bun (here’s the hamburger history).

So how about going bunless—or rather, breadless?
 
 
NON-BREAD BUN ALTERNATIVES

Whether gluten-free, low-carb or paleo, we’ve seen every burger bun substitute imaginable, from homemade cauliflower buns to potato pancakes.

Alternatives To The Burger Bun

Look to different vegetables:

  • Lettuce leaves (photos #1 and #2), along with tomato and onion
  • Grilled pineapple (photo #3)
  • Grilled portabella mushrooms (photo #4)
  • Other grilled vegetables (photo #5)
  •  
    For the “other grilled vegetables,” look for the widest eggplant, potato or zucchini. You may be able to find one that can be sliced to hold an average burger.

    Otherwise, you may end up with sliders.

    TIP: While bread buns keep your fingers clean, the lettuce leaves do the same (at best a bit of water residue). If you don’t want to touch the oil-brushed grilled veggies, the solution is simple: an open-face burger with a knife and fork.
     
     
    TASTY TOPPINGS

    We enjoy trying new burger toppings. These work whether you serve conventional buns or the “vegetable buns” above.

    You can start with your favorite condiments (ours are curried ketchup*, sriracha mayo* and sweet and savory pickles).

  • Caramelized onions
  • Cheese
  • Chili
  • Grilled fruit (pineapple, peaches)
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Salsa
  • Slaw
  •  
    SLAW ALTERNATIVES

    If you call yourself a foodie, bypass the commercial cabbage slaw with a few flecks of carrot, dripping with diluted mayonnaise. Instead, go for a homemade slaw. If you don’t have time to make it, assign one or two recipes to someone else.

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw
  • Blue Cheese Slaw (add crumbled blue cheese to any classic cole slaw recipe)
  • BLT Slaw
  • Broccoli Slaw (substitute store-bought shredded broccoli for the cabbage in any cole slaw recipe)
  • Crunchy Asian Slaw
  • Lime-Cumin Cabbage Slaw
  • Pepper Jelly Slaw
  • Vanilla Slaw
  • Vietnamese Cabbage Slaw
  • Two-Color “Mexican” Cabbage Slaw
  •  

     

    Burger In A Lettuce Bun

    Bunless Burger

    Pineapple Burger

    Burger On Portobello Bun

    Burger On Grilled Eggplant

    [1] Trade the bread for lettuce leaves (photo courtesy Burger Fi). [2] For onion lovers, a double-onion burger with raw and caramelized onions. [3] A tropical burger. Use two slices of grilled pineapple instead of the bread. Here’s the recipe from Fit Views. [4] Spell it portabella or portobello, it’s a delicious bread substitute. Here’s the recipe from Sew Lets Cook. [5] Grilled eggplant as a bun (photo courtesy Our Four Forks).

     
    BUNS, ROLLS AND BISCUITS: THE DIFFERENCE

    Are the halved breads that surround hot dogs and hamburgers properly called rolls or buns?

    There is no official difference, meaning that there are no specific USDA standards. Both rolls and buns are single-serve breads, and the USDA only stipulates that buns and rolls weigh less than one-half pound. (Loaves of bread, on the other hand, must weigh one pound or more).

    Manufacturers and retailers use whichever term they want. However, the American Institute of Baking uses this distinction

  • Rolls is the term generally used for individual breads that hold a filling—either pre-filled like cinnamon rolls or sandwich bread like Kaiser rolls. The notable exception is hot cross buns, which are filled with currants or raisins and thus should be hot cross rolls. However, the first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733, when there was no distinction.
  • Buns typically do not contain a filling, but can be eaten plain, with a spread (butter, jam), or used as a sop, i.e., to wipe up a liquid food: gravy, sauce, soup, stews.
  • Bunne was the word used in Middle English. The use of roll to describe a small bread came much later. The oldest reference we could find is to Parker House rolls, in 1873.
  • Biscuits use a different leavening. Biscuits use baking powder to rise; buns and rolls use yeast.
  • Texture: Rolls can be hard (crusty) or soft, buns are soft, and biscuits are pillowy soft (from the baking powder).
  •  
    It is true that “burger bun” rolls off the tongue more easily than “burger roll.” But the more accurate term is roll.

    Just for the record.

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    *Just mix the seasoning into regular ketchup or mayonnaise to your desired intensity.

      

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