Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wild Boar Burgers on Portabello Mushroom Buns

As I was creating this recipe, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about along with it.  Okay, actually, I had no idea what I was going to write about...until I tasted the finished product.  As soon as I took a bite, the intense flavor of the burger brought to mind a single word – “umami.” 

Many people are familiar with the four basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour; however, the fifth taste known as “umami” may be unfamiliar to some.  Umami is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as glutamate and aspartate).”  There’s a mouthful, right? ...It’s a good thing I’m a nerd and actually like science.

But more on the food...The boar meat, bacon and mushrooms in this burger all work together to create this intense meaty flavor that would more than satisfy any paleo dieter’s umami craving.  A side of crisp coleslaw would make the perfect accompaniment to round out the meal.  The only change I might make the next time I’m craving these burgers is the addition of some lettuce and tomato to lighten it up and add a bit of freshness.

Wild Boar Burgers on Portabello Mushroom Buns

  • 8 large portabello mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground wild boar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside.  Drizzle the mushroom caps with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.  Place the mushroom caps with the inside up on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet, and set aside.  In the same pan with the remaining bacon drippings, add the shallots and cook on low for about 5 minutes.  While the shallots are cooking, finely chop the mushroom stems, then add them to the pan to cook with the shallots.  Continue cooking for a few more minutes until browned and caramelized, then set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl mix the ground boar with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and butter.  (This is easiest if you use your hands).  Form the meat into 4 patties and cook them two at a time in the pan for about 3 minutes per side, or until nicely browned.
  4. Place each patty on a mushroom cap, and top each with 2 slices of bacon, some of the shallot mixture, and another mushroom cap on top.

What is one "umami" dish that you often crave?