Chef Jenn Louis and the Mushroom Council stopped by our test kitchens recently to cook us lunch (seriously, how lucky are we?). On the menu: mushroom meatball burgers with mozzarella and savory tomato butter. Louis subbed in a good portion of the meat for mushrooms, a swap that’s right in line with our flip the protein idea. The results were delicious. Scratch that; the results were better than your traditional burger. I asked Louis to tell us more about her protein flip philosophy.
“We’re one of the only food cultures that thinks of vegetables as side dishes,” she says. “Most other cultures incorporate vegetables into every dish so they get a different balance of nutrition.” While the idea of shifting meat off the center of the plate is rather novel for Americans, many cultures have been doing this all along. And their health statistics compared to ours are, well, better.
Louis says that we should be eating more vegetables and whole foods in general, and not just for the reasons we’ve all heard. “Our body wants to break down food—it’s how the body cleans itself, how it pulls in the most nutrition. We feel good and live more productive lives when we eat well.”
For lunch, Louis combined ground pork with sautéed maitake mushrooms. “They’re not as watery as other mushrooms,” she says. “They have a substantial mouthfeel and a satisfying bite. And they have an almost truffle-y flavor.” At no point in her demonstration did Louis talk about disguising the mushrooms or sneaking an extra vegetable serving into the patty. It’s truly all about flavor—the nutrition is just an added bonus.
Keep an eye out for more plant-forward patties on restaurant menus and for our own flipped mushroom and beef burger in the May issue.