Everyday Food (March 2011)
Regular readers know we're usually not mean-spirited or snarky about recipes.
Sure, there have been some instances where a food mag recipe didn't turn out as tasty as we'd hoped (like with this Gingery Sweet Potato Soup or, more recently, with that Stovetop Chicken Pie). And there have certainly been plenty of times when we majorly goofed up and the result was disappointing (as with this Beet, Rhubarb and Orange Salad or the hilariously disastrous Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting and Peanut Butter Brittle). There have even been occasions where we realized there was an error in the recipe, like with these Coffee Crunch Bars.
But we typically stay upbeat and positive about it.
Not today, kiddies.
Ladies and gentlemen, these Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers are so bad -- so epically atrocious -- that we took one bite of them and knew one thing with absolutely certainty: These are the worst thing we've ever made on The Bitten Word.
Hopefully this goes without saying, but we love Martha Stewart. Her recipes are terrific; we love how she highlights seasonal ingredients so well; she's a one-woman multimedia powerhouse, etc. etc. etc. Just so we're clear: Martha is aces. Love her to death. And we look forward to reading both Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food each month, and often recommend subscriptions to others.
Which is why we were drawn to these burgers in the first place. As you may remember, we're trying to de-emphasize meat in our diets for 2011, and this seemed like a great meat-free mid-week supper. (The recipe calls for half a pound of ground beef chuck, but it also offers a meatless version, which you'll see below.)
The prep is easy and straightforward: Soak the bulgur in boiling water, then mash it together with the chopped chickpeas and -- in the meatless version -- the cheddar cheese and the egg white. Form into patties. Easy peasy.
The first sign of trouble came when we actually tried to put the first two patties into the skillet. They would barely hold together. When it came time to flip them, forget it -- the patties absolutely disintegrated. So for the second two burgers, we added an additional egg white to help glue everything together. The result was marginally better -- the patties mostly held together enough to flip, as long as we were very careful while doing so.
We gingerly assembled the burgers, adding slices of cucumber and tomato, along with the feta-yogurt sauce.
We carefully brought the burgers to our lips.
We took a bite.
Imagine a birds' nest made from twigs, leaves and bits of trash. Now imagine that birds' nest has been sitting inside a fetid, long-abandoned cabin for a couple years, gathering dust and mildew. Now imagine that that cabin sits inside a deep, dank cave, and that that cave exists in the middle of an unrelenting, century-long sandstorm. Also, there's a really hairy dog in the cabin.
That dog-hair-sand-mold-cave-cabin-nest? That's what you'll wish you were eating when you take a bite of these burgers.
Seriously, these are monstrously bad. Like, aggressively bad.
These burgers taste like sadness.
What is the deal, Martha?! How did these burgers come out of your kitchen? We checked, checked and rechecked to make sure we hadn't messed the recipe up somehow. And other than adding that second egg white, we're confident we followed the recipe to the letter. It looks as if we weren't the only ones that found this disappointing. Perhaps the version with ground beef is better, but the veggie version of this dish is a bust.
So congratulations, Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers! You have the texture of dirt and cotton, the visual appeal of lawnmower clippings, and the taste of the Dust Bowl. You truly are: The Worst Thing We've Ever Made on The Bitten Word.
Active time: 20 mins | Total time: 20 mins
2 ounces feta cheese
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup bulgur
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound ground beef chuck (95% lean)
1/3 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
nonstick cooking spray
4 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, sliced
In a small bowl, mash feta with the back of a fork until smooth. Stir in yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a small heatproof bowl, combine bulgur and 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse chickpeas until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add beef and mint. Drain bulgur and add to chickpea mixture. With your hands, mix until mixture is evenly combined and holds together when pressed into a ball. Divide into four 1-inch-thick patties and season with salt and pepper.
Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add patties and cook until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once. Serve on buns with sliced cucumber, tomato, and feta-yogurt sauce.
MEATLESS: Use 1/2 cup more bulgur and replace beef with 3 ounces shredded cheddar (1 cup) and 1 egg white.