How not to make a (blueberry) burger

I had a bad cooking day. It happens sometimes.

It all started with blueberries and expectations. We had some lovely house guests recently who showed up with a big bag of blueberries and a beautiful blue and white pie plate from Burlington, Vermont. Needless to say, I was very excited. I wanted to cook something special with them. I had high hopes indeed.

Of course I would bake a pie — got to test out the new equipment, you know. But I also wanted something savory.

My first thought was to revamp my sour cherry ketchup into blueberry ketchup. I followed my recipe except I substituted blueberries for the cherries and currents for the golden raisins.

It was okay, the sour cherry ketchup is miles better. I put it in the fridge with the idea that it would be good on chicken. It wasn’t a total disaster but no homerun either.

Having tossed cherries into a hamburger before, I thought blueberries might be an interesting addition. A quick Internet search revealed that I wasn’t the first one to think of this.

As I do when I’m working on a recipe, I search for existing recipes, compare, and then go off on my own. For blueberry burgers, maybe I should have stuck a little closer to the playbook.

I started with a cup of blueberries. A cup of berries with a pound of ground beef sounded good to me. I dumped the blueberries and a few garlic cloves into the food processor and gave it a whirl. There was a lot of liquid but without thinking too much about it, I added the mixture right to the ground beef.

Only I didn’t have a pound of ground beef, turns out I only had half a pound. I just made a big sloppy, grass-fed mess.

Recognizing that I might run into problems when cooking the burgers, I made a tiny test patty and fried it up. It immediately fell apart. I’m glad I didn’t test it on the grill.

I wondered if other people had problems with the burger, so I went back to the online recipes. I often find the comment section very helpful when troubleshooting recipes.

My problem became apparent when I glanced at the recipes. Eating Well’s recipe only called for a third cup of blueberries, plus they used breadcrumbs to bind everything together. Serious Eats called for a half of a cup of blueberries to a pound and a half of ground beef. Oops.

And here I was stuck with my mess of a burger that had more than six times the amount of blueberries their recipes called for. What to do?

One thought was to make tacos. Add a little chili powder, some onion, cook it up, wrap it up in a soft corn tortilla and be done with it. That sounded pretty good and is something I might try still.

But I wanted a hamburger on a bun and I wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Following Eating Well’s lead, I decided to add some binding agents.

I added an egg and breadcrumbs. I also decided to bake it. The thought was I wouldn’t have to chance it falling apart by flipping and hoped that some of the juice would evaporate. Seemed to work.

An ordinary burger might have dried out, but my super-soaked one did just fine, unless of course you wanted yours medium rare. These were cooked enough to make any food safety inspector proud. Cooked any less and I’m certain in wouldn’t have made it to the bun in one piece.

Taste wise, once topped with an onion slice, three condiments and put on a bun, I was hard pressed to taste the blueberries.

Our two burgers sported a half of a cup of blueberries each. That’s a healthy dose of the berries’ powerful antioxidants. I think that is what this burger is all about—taking a summer staple and upping the nutritional value. If you want something fruity, stick with a pie.

While my mess of a burger ended up tasty, I’m clearly not the one to relay any blueberry burger recipes. For that I would go to either www.serious eats.com/ or www.eatingwell.com. Or just wing it — only wing it with much less blueberries than I did!

My fingers are crossed that the pie comes off without a hitch!

3 Responses to “How not to make a (blueberry) burger”

  1. susan says:

    I do hope you got to taste some of those nice berries!!!
    Great visit with your family, you were missed!

  2. kara says:

    The blueberry pie in the new pie plate came out great! Thanks again!

  3. Elizabeth Joan says:

    Visit us this fall in Meaux, Louisiana, and we’ll experiment again with a tasty burger. Let’s make sure to separate berries from beef though :- ) Still enjoying my farm stay. Miss y’all!

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