“Hey dad, wanna come over for lunch? We’re making mushroom burgers.” Radio silence. That’s weird. Usually an invitation for free food and the company of his firstborn is met with gleeful enthusiasm. “Don’t worry, it’s a beef burger, with lots of mushrooms, you’ll love it.” Bingo, that was it. “Okay, sure! We’ll be right over.” It used to be, “mushroom burger” just meant a hamburger with lots of mushrooms piled on top. These days it usually refers to a burger in which a portobello mushroom takes the place of the patty. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what my father wanted. A grilled beef patty with melted Swiss, and slathered with sautéed shiitakes and onions? Hard to resist.
So, this one was a big hit with my dad, and with my mom too, for that matter. The things that make it a step up from your typical retro mushroom burger are the dried mushroom powder mixed into the ground meat, intensifying the mushroom taste, and using shiitakes for the topping, which are highly flavorful mushrooms. You can easily skip the dried mushroom bit it you don’t have any on hand, and you can easily sub button mushrooms, or any other mushrooms, for the shiitakes if you want.
We call for fresh shiitake mushrooms, but only because they are so much more flavorful than regular button mushrooms. Feel free to use whatever mushroom you want, buttons, cremini, morels, etc. Although this recipe calls for using a grill, you can easily pan fry them on your stovetop. I would recommend using a large cast iron pan for pan frying.
- 1 pound ground beef
- A 1-ounce package of dried mushrooms (porcini, morels or other mushrooms)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (add more if you like burgers a little saltier)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms (can substitute button or cremini), sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 slices of Swiss cheese
- Burger buns
1 Process the dried mushrooms in a food processor, or a clean coffee grinder (grind some raw rice to clean out coffee grinds), until ground into a powder. Remove any large mushroom pieces that didn't grind down, a few small pieces will be fine.
2 In a large bowl, use your clean hands to gently mix together the meat, salt, mushroom powder, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Mix just until everything is mostly combined, a minute or two. Do not overwork the meat mixture or it will become tough and meatloaf-like. Shape the meat into 3-4 patties, using about a quarter to a third of a pound per patty, creating a slight indentation at the centers of the patties (this will help keep the patties fairly flat when they cook, as the sides tend to contract more than the center).
3 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. While the grill is heating up, heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and dry-sauté them until they release their water, about 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and the olive oil, toss to combine and continue to sauté over high heat 1 minute. Add salt to taste and cook until the onions soften and begin to brown. Turn off the heat and place in a bowl.
4 Grill the burgers to the desired doneness, between 5-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the burgers and how hot your grill is.
5 When the burgers are almost done, lay the Swiss cheese over them and allow the cheese to melt. Paint the burger buns with a little olive oil and toast them on the griddle or grill grates. To assemble, put a burger on the bun and top with the sauteed onions and mushroom mixture.