America’s collective hankering for burgers isn’t going anywhere, but something new has crept in: a desire for a leaner, feel-good burger experience. At Graffiti, the house burger answers that demand, combining mushrooms—portobello, trumpet and button—into the patty blend. “The flavor experience is complex but balanced, with umami from the meat, tomatoes and mushroom, while getting a good kick from the various spices and fresh chiles,” says Jehangir Mehta, Chef/Owner. “We typically describe it as a kebab burger, given that it is infused with herbs, vegetables and spices found in traditional kebabs.”
The Mushroom Council is helping promote “the blend,” touting its leaner but flavorful profile. Underpinning the initiative is a study from The Culinary Institute of America and University of California-Davis, published in the Journal of Food Science, which found that blending mushrooms with ground meat enhances both flavor and nutrition. “This proof-of-concept sensory study provides the basis for how mushrooms and meat can combine for healthier burgers,” says Bart Minor, President of the Mushroom Council. The study indicates that a traditional ground meat recipe prepared with 50 percent mushrooms and 50 percent meat can reduce sodium by 25 percent. “Mushrooms’ inherent umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt in recipes. By combining finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat, people can enjoy the foods they love with added nutrients,” he says.
Creminis and portobellos lend rich, earthy flavors to burger builds, while white button mushrooms offer a lighter profile. For the more adventurous eaters, says Minor, maitake and shiitake varieties bring a bold, woodsy taste and meaty texture.