Remember Meatloaf Shmeatloaf, my fun & sexy Healthy Meatloaf Recipe ? No? Well, click on the name of it to relive that sensually satisfying event! So I had a yearning for it the other day, but was too lazy… I mean busy and too hungry to go through all that mixing and then wait an hour while it bakes. And what’s a meatloaf without mashed potatoes and green beans? Oy, I was worn out just thinking about it! Suddenly, the proverbial bulb lit up over my head. Minimize! Thus was born my down-sized Healthy Meatloaf Burger. And I’m too generous not to share this brilliant shortcut with all of you!
Meatloaf Burgers are about as easy as making a super-charged cheeseburger, and they’re cooked the same way. No baking, no waiting! Of course, they’re not quite as sexy as Meatloaf Shmeatloaf, my Healthy Meatloaf Recipe that encourages you to squeeze, mush, ooze, and beat that meat, but you can save that for when you’re in the mood. *Wink wink, nudge nudge* Ready to try my Healthy Meatloaf Burgers?
Makes at least 2-4 Healthy Meatloaf Burgers. For us, this made 3.
– Half pound hamburger (I imagine this could be done with a meat substitute)
– Onion/Garlic/Green Pepper/Mushroom/ or any fresh veg you want to try
– Cheese of your choice
– Onion Powder
– Garlic Powder
– Thyme (optional)
– Little bit of filler, like Rice, Cous Cous, Bread Crumbs… whatever you have
– Wheat Germ (Optional)
– Plastic sandwich bags (Optional, but makes shaping them easier!)
HINT: I wear thin disposable plastic gloves like docs use. Unless you’re a risk junky, you don’t need to steal them from your doctor’s office. Buy them at a grocery store! This is for the mushing it all together part, so I can really get hands-on!
* Mush up the burger in a bowl, just enough to make it easier to mix in the other stuff.
* Sprinkle in salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders. Use about as much as you would for regular burgers, or just a tad more. Sprinkle in a little thyme, if you like. (I skipped the other spices I use in a baked meatloaf.)
* Give it a good squirt of ketchup to loosen the texture. You need it to be mushable. Warning: If you over-do the ketchup, your Healthy Meatloaf Burgers will still be tasty, but they’ll be harder to flip and might end up closer to sloppy Joe consistency than you want.
* Fold in a bit of filler, depending on what you have around. I happened to have some leftover cooked cous cous in the fridge, so mixed in maybe 4 Tablespoons. (I’d have used rice, if it was already cooked.) Cous cous adds extra protein, though. If you want to toss in some small breadcrumbs instead, try to use decent quality whole grain bread, at least. In meatloaf, I often add a ½ packet of dry onion soup. If you like, it probably can’t hurt the Healthy Meatloaf Burger to add a little, if you have any.
* If you have wheat germ, sprinkle some in. Maybe a teaspoon or so. If your Healthy Meatloaf Burger is getting too dry to mix things in, add a smidgeon more ketchup. You could toss in a beaten egg, which I do in regular meatloaf, but I skipped it in this.
Use your own judgment on amounts of the vegetables. You want the flavor and nutritious benefits, but don’t over-bulk it or the meat won’t hold together as well.
* Grate a little carrot into it.
* Chop some fresh tomato in… small pieces. I used less than half a medium tomato.
* Get creative. If you like green pepper, jalapeño, mushroom or onions, use what’s on hand. In my own Healthy Meatloaf Burgers I tossed in a small clove of finely-diced garlic. And if we’d had any mushrooms, a few small chunks definitely would have been added. (In a meatloaf, I add celery, but doubt it would cook well in the burger version.)
* Grate or break up very small bits of your favorite cheese and mush it into the mix. I like a fair amount of sharp cheddar. Tiny bits of feta or bleu cheese would be good, too.
Onions v. Worms
To me onions are essential! I LOVE the flavor of onions cooked in. But my spouse has such an aversion, he claims he’d rather eat worms. Unlike some gross boys I’ve heard about, Doug has never actually eaten worms. And if you did, Moofie, I DON’T WANNA HEAR ABOUT IT!
So for harmony in the home, I learned decades ago to separate yummy or “poison” onion foods (depending on who’s talking) from the boring or “safe” non-onion foods. Here’s how I did it in the Healthy Meatloaf Burgers, in case you need this advice for any disputed ingredient. Get your plastic sandwich bags ready!
* Grab up a burger’s worth of the Healthy Meatloaf Burger mix using a sandwich bag. Just stick your hand in the baggie, scoop up some burger and pull the bag inside-out over it. Scoot your chopped onions into the burger baggie. Then twist tie or zip the top of the bag to keep the burger contained. Now squish, squeeze, moosh in the onion. It’s not as satisfying as beating your meat, like in my Meatloaf Shmeatloaf recipe, but it feels pretty darn good! Then gently pat it, still in baggie, into a nice flat rounded burger on the counter. Gently cut or peel the baggie off burger as you carefully lay it in the heated frying pan.
[If have more onion-eaters than non, reverse and do the baggie trick with the onion-free burger. Then just meld all the onion into the rest of the mix.]
HINT: I recommend shaping each one in a sandwich bag before you put it in the frying pan. (Click photo 1 to see) Not only is it less messy, but it’s fun and easier to form the patties. Or store in the fridge, still in bag, ready to cook when you have a craving for a quick Healthy Meatloaf Burger.
* Fry about the same as you would regular burgers. Cover for a few minutes. Keep heat fairly low. They’re less dense than all-meat hamburgers, so they may cook through faster. I found I didn’t even need to flip them, but had to keep the flame low.
* When it’s close to done (quicker than you may think), cover with your cheese of choice. We like sharp cheddar or provolone or Swiss. Now put the top bun on it. Cover pan again. Keep heat LOW. Set bottom bun (upside down) on the lid, if you like a little crisp to it. Nice touch!
* If cheese is looking melty, spread a little mayo (or your choice of condiment) on the bottom bun. (Remove it from the lid first… duh.) Slice some tomato on bottom bun.
* Use a wide spatula to lift the burgers out, because they may crumble more easily than solid all-meat burgers. But that won’t affect the taste!
* Place your hot Healthy Meatloaf Burger on the bottom bun. Mmmm… smells great!
CAVEAT: In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m revealing that not all people love my Healthy Meatloaf Burger more than a boring basic burger. My spouse ate his begrudgingly and gave it a lukewarm, “I’ve had worse”. He prefers simple foods. But then, Doug grew up in a family that still ate Depression recipes. To his dear mom, a meatloaf was a mix of hamburger, salt and white bread. The ketchup went on top after it was baked. My husband still pines for the old family “spaghetti” recipe: Hamburger smothered with Franco American Spaghetti from a can. I’m afraid my Healthy Meatloaf Burgers may be simply too sophisticated for some tastes!