We ate our first Beyond Burgers this month. Here’s our review:
When you live near an all-American town like Sag Harbor, New York, you know you’re going to find a great burger. I love the burgers at Dockside, a local institution that’s an improbable tenant in the local American Legion Hall. And then there’s a burger place that’s pure Hamptons. It has a celebrity chef and looks like everyone’s idea of a great small-town soda fountain. Except this one has a wall of autographs of everyone from Billy Joel to Ina Garten. It’s LT Burger in the Harbor (62 Main Street, Sag Harbor NY Tel: 631-899-4646). The LT stands for Laurent Tourondel, the French-born chef who took Manhattan by storm from the opening of his first BLT restaurant. (BLT is short for Bistro Laurent Tourondel.) There are now 15 BLT’s from New York to Hong Kong. Of all of the ones we’ve been to, our hearts belong to LT Burger. Oddly, my favorite ‘sandwich’ at LT isn’t a burger at all. It’s called “Dirty Chicken” and consists of fried chicken, smoked gouda cheese, slaw, frizzled fried onions and barbecue Mayo. Then, our foodiest friends started chatting up LT’s newest “Beyond Burger”, praising its flavor and just what a surprise it was to taste something that really could be a true alternative to the all-beef pattie. If not the special sauce.
What exactly is a Beyond Burger ?
In 2009, a man named Ethan Brown opened a company called Beyond Meat to make nothing but plant-based meat substitutes. Beyond Meat started out with faux chicken, which sold briskly at Whole Foods. They didn’t get to beef until 2016 when Beyond Burger hit store shelves. And what exactly is in a Beyond Burger? It’s a vegan meat substitute that’s made from a mixture of pea, rice and mung bean proteins, canola and coconut oil, potato starch, apple extract, sunflower and pomegranate. The astonishing “juiciness” of the burger comes from beet juice. One burger patty is 270 calories and has 5 grams of saturated fat.
And how does a Beyond Burger taste?
I am not going to say that I would never have known it wasn’t a genuine 100 percent all-beef patty—even if somebody else had ordered it for me. My first impression was surprise—as in surprisingly good to someone who grew up eating great Beef a great number of times in any given week. There’s the juiciness of a great burger. The texture is astonishingly close to the real thing. The only thing that my first Beyond Burger lacked was the aroma of real beef. That didn’t stop me from having another one—this time at home.
How to make a Beyond Burger indistinguishable from the real thing.
It may sound unbelievable for someone as involved with food as I am, but I had no clue that our local supermarket stocked Beyond Burgers. But there they were, on special at $4.99 for two patties. Those devils at Beyond Meat cleverly labelled the package two quarter pounders. That’s 4 ounces each. My ideal hamburger adheres to almost all the lyrics to the McDonald jingle: Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Tomato on a sesame seed bun. So that’s exactly what I made.I heated a cast iron pan on the stove to medium high and when the skillet was hot, I put the patties in the pan with no oil whatsoever.I followed the Beyond Burger instructions to a T. They’re on the product label and I didn’t wander from them. I was quite surprised and pleased to see the sizzling oil and browning burger in the pan. And it was a winner in every way. Not the least of which is knowing that if you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals, you can really feel holier than thou eating a Beyond Burger.
One more thing…
Just last month, a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Atlanta, GA. put Beyond Fried Chicken on its menu. It sold out in 5 hours. I just keep wondering when my Dirty Chicken at LT Burger becomes a Beyond Dirty Chicken which KFC in Atlanta tweeted is a “Kentucky Fried Miracle”