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It's grilling season. Here's how to nail a plant-based burger

A plant-based burger prepared by A Martínez, one of the hosts of <em>Morning Edition.</em>
NPR
A plant-based burger prepared by A Martínez, one of the hosts of <em>Morning Edition.</em>

For some, the summer months wouldn't be complete without burgers and a backyard barbecue. It might come with a smoky aura, corn on the cob and plenty of patty flipping.

Jack Bishop of the PBS television show America's Test Kitchen, teaches A Martínez, one of the hosts of Morning Edition, how to cook a plant-based burger. America's Test Kitchen recently released a book on cooking with plant-based meat.

Bishop says these plant-based delicacies can appeal to vegans and carnivores alike.

"It doesn't read like tempeh or tofu," Bishop said. "This reads like a hamburger."

NPR's A Martínez bites into the plant-based burger.
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NPR
NPR's A Martínez bites into the plant-based burger.

How to nail a plant-based burger at your barbecue

Start with some plant-based meat. Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat are both good options, for example. Begin by molding the meatless meat into patties with your hands. Each patty should be about 3.5 inches in diameter, Bishop says.

If you're used to cooking with ground beef, you might notice this type of product is a bit stickier. Bishop says wetting your hands with a bit of water can make shaping the patties easier.

Set the patties aside on a plate and leave them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up.

This is a good chance to wash your hands and to begin preparing the fixings. Slice the tomatoes and red onions; grab lettuce, ketchup, a bun or cheese.

Bishop went with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, but "you do you," he said.

Once the 15 minutes have elapsed, grab the burgers from the fridge. An eighth of a teaspoon of table salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper should be enough for four 4-ounce patties, Bishop says. The plant-based beef already has some salt, he says.

Bishop says you can add as much or as little pepper as you like. He also said it's okay to eyeball the measurements.

Once the patties are seasoned, place two teaspoons of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and heat the pan over medium-high heat.

"When the oil starts to move around, what we call shimmering, it's almost ready," Bishop says. "If you see a wisp of smoke, then the pan is nice and hot and we're going to put the patties in."

Before it starts to smoke, put the patties in the pan. Let the patties cook for three minutes, undisturbed. Bishop says some beginner cooks might shift the food around, but that makes it hard for it to brown.

After the three minutes, flip your patties. Add cheese on top of newly flipped patties if you'd like. Give it about two minutes. Then, it's time to transfer the patties to the buns and fixings you prepared earlier.

And feel free to get creative with the toppings and condiments. As Bishop says, "This is the sort of plainest classic burger, but you can get fancy if you want."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The patties cook with cheese on top.
/ NPR
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NPR
The patties cook with cheese on top.