Veggie burgers can be a feat of culinary engineering. Protein powerhouses packed with every legume, lentil, and grain imaginable bound by egg or flaxseed meal or chickpea flour. But no matter how overthought and/or over-seasoned a veggie burger is, it’s still a source of stress the moment it hits the pan. Will the cooking oil interrupt its carefully thought-out structural integrity? What if it crumbles the instant I approach it with a spatula? Will I keep it together? In every instance, there’s a 50/50 chance it will and you won’t. But there are veggie burgers that are simple. Veggie burgers that stay together because of nature’s intelligent design. And these burgers are these Portobello Cheese Burgers with Grilled Radicchio.
Yes, these veggie burgers skip the complex mix and utilize the large and oddly burger-shaped cap of the portobello mushroom. It seems it was meant to be. Now, I am by no means the first to plop a mushroom cap on a burger bun and call it dinner. The internet is loaded with portobello burger beauties. This is merely my rendition of what I suppose is pretty much a classic at this point.
These Portobello Cheese Burgers start with a marinade. I wanted to enhance the already fairly “meaty” qualities of the portobello mushrooms, so I doubled down on the umami and made soy sauce the star of my marinade. To the soy sauce, I added steak spice, garlic (for even more umami), and a touch of honey. I finished the marinade off with olive oil and coated the mushroom caps in the stuff. I would suggest leaving your mushroom caps overnight. You could get away with marinating for a mere four hours. But I think you would be cheating yourself. The flavor is so much better if you give the mushrooms a good 12.
Okay, so your mushrooms have soaked in their soy sauce bath for the appropriate amount of time. But what’s a burger without its toppings? So, let’s prep the equally important burger accouterments, starting with the smoked paprika mayo. And you’ll be happy to know, that both ingredients in this two-ingredient recipe are mentioned in the title. Yes, all I am asking you to do is stir some smoked paprika into some mayo. But as with all recipes with minimal ingredients, make sure you’re using quality paprika and quality mayo.
Now, let’s move onto something that requires a little more effort, although only marginally so. The grilled radicchio. Again, the title pretty much reveals all. Cut a head of radicchio into wedges, drizzle those wedges with oil, sprinkle them with salt, and introduce them to a hot grill. Cook them just long enough to get a little char going on both sides, and take them off the heat before they wilt past all recognition.
Finally, let’s talk about my favorite topping – Hickory Sticks. For those of you who did not grow up in Canada, you may not be familiar with the charms of this particular snack food. Hickory Sticks are basically Canadian snack food royalty. Essentially, they are potatoes cut into matchsticks and fried as all good chips are. Hickory Sticks are dressed in a seasoning meant to mimic hickory smoke…or something like that. Honestly, Hickory Sticks pretty much only taste like Hickory Sticks as far as I’m concerned.
But you might be wondering why I would write a recipe for a burger that has a topping you can only get in Canada. Well, it’s because I’m not a good content creator. I’m obviously joking, we all know I’m killing it. 😏😅 No, there are a number of potential substitutes for the Hickory Sticks. Basically, any potato chip that is BBQ or bacon or smoky something will work here. And if BBQ and the like are not your jam, pop whatever chip you like on there. I am an ardent supporter of putting chips in sandwiches, I don’t discriminate or pass judgment when it comes to flavor.
With all the toppings waiting in the wings, all that remains is to cook the burgers. Now, you can do this on a cast-iron griddle or a BBQ. If you’re a long-running vegetarian, I imagine that must be music to your ears. Grills and veggie burgers don’t always mix. But portobello caps do exceptionally well on a grill, so you can BBQ with confidence. Once the grill or griddle is hot, add the mushroom caps gill-side-down. Cook for 5 minutes and flip. Grill for another five minutes, then flip again. And this is where the cheese comes in. Add a few slices of smoked gouda to each cap and either place a large domed pot lid over the caps, if you’re cooking inside, or immediately put the lid on the BBQ. Once the cheese has melted, your mushrooms should be cooked through and you can start building your burger.
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these Portobello Cheese Burgers with Grilled Radicchio. They have the right amount of smoke, umami, and cheese, and they won’t go to pieces on you. What more could you want from a veggie burger?
Portobello Cheese Burgers with Grilled Radicchio
- BBQ or cast-iron griddle
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp steak spice
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 portobello mushroom caps
- ½ cup mayo
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 head radicchio cut into wedges
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 85g (3oz) smoked gouda sliced
- 4 burger buns
- 1 cup Hickory Sticks **
- In a small bowl whisk to combine the soy sauce, a 1/4 cup of the olive oil, steak spice, and honey. Place the mushroom caps in a large resealable container and pour the mixture over top. Toss to coat and transfer to the fridge. Marinate for 8-12 hours.⅓ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp honey, 4 portobello mushroom caps, 1 tbsp steak spice
- When the mushroom caps are marinated, place the mayo in a bowl and add the smoked paprika. Stir to combine and cover and transfer to the fridge until ready to serve.½ cup mayo, ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Arrange the radicchio wedges on a small baking sheet and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and place on a hot BBQ grill or cast iron griddle. Briefly grill the radicchio wedges on both sides just long enough to char slightly. Return the radicchio to the baking sheet and set it aside.¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 head radicchio, ½ tsp kosher salt
- Place the mushroom caps on the grill or griddle, gill-side-down. Cook for 5 minutes then flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Return the portobello caps to gill-side-down and top with the smoked gouda. Cover the caps with either a large domed pot lid if cooking on a griddle, or place the lid on the BBQ if using a grill. Cook until the cheese has melted.85g (3oz) smoked gouda
- While the burgers are cooking, toast the burger buns. Slather both the top and bottom buns with the smoked paprika mayo and top the bottom buns with a handful of Hickory Sticks. Place the portobello burgers on top and place 2 wedges of the radicchio on top of the burgers. Place the top buns on top and serve immediately.4 burger buns, 1 cup Hickory Sticks **