Fast food chains send The A.V. Club dozens of press releases each week announcing their latest menu items, and most of the time it’s met with a yawn. But one caught our eye this week, an item that chefs, restaurateurs and nutritionist say could become an industry-changing trend.
That item is the beef-mushroom blended burger, and Sonic Drive-In will become the first restaurant chain to test market the patty, according to Restaurant Business Online. What’s notable about the patty is that it’s 25- to 30-percent ground mushrooms blended with ground beef. The Culinary Institute of America is the country’s most acclaimed cooking school, and at its Menu of Change conference, the blended burger has been cited as one way to reduce fat content, lower food costs, and alleviate the demand for industrial cattle farming. The James Beard Foundation has also started an initiative called the Blended Burger Project, which encourages chefs across the country to use the mushroom-beef hybrid patty at their restaurants, and sharing their recipes on YouTube. Which is to say, a lot of people in the food industry are betting on this to take off.
We’ve tasted the mushroom blended beef burger at a number of food functions over the last few years, and it’s not just some vegetal cardboard matter. We would argue that it’s indistinguishable from an all-beef patty, and if prepared correctly, even more flavorful than beef burgers. You don’t feel skimped on the beef, and the mushroom provides both a savory boost, as well as keeping that patty juicy (as it’s a sponge for moisture).
Whether Sonic’s version will taste good or embraced by the public remains to be seen. But if there’s a food trend that stands a chance of sticking around and becoming part of the culinary norm, the blended burger movement is as good a bet as any. You heard it here first.