Open Face Burgers on Polenta

Yesterday I wanted to incorporate a package of The Very Good Burgers I purchased from a Vegan business called The Very Good Butchers into a unique recipe. My driving force was the lack of hamburger buns, so it couldn't be a standard burger creation.

A couple inspirations came to help me in the creative process - 1) an open face burger with a runny egg on top we  had in Norway and 2) a Meatball and Polenta Casserole recipe I saw on a TV show on The Food Network called The Pioneer Woman. I intend to try this last sometime soon, but want to think about how to make it my own first.

What I ended up making was a polenta with sautéed diced onion, minced garlic, vegetable broth and a little cream cheese stirred in.  I spread a burger size layer on the plate, added the toppings and finished the stack off with a fried egg and a swirl of ketchup.  If I had had more time and a few more ingredients I would have done more, but I worked with what I had. If you want this to stay vegan, don't add the fried egg. A swirl of some runny cashew cheese would be a great finish for this. 

I also wanted the egg over easy, so when you cut into it some yolk would ooze out and roll down the stack. Unfortunately, I cooked it a bit too hard. Sunny side up and poached would definitely be more reliable, but I like over easy. I'll just have to practice.

Below you'll find the basics of what I did, but honestly this recipe is more of an idea to get creative with. It ends up being a great knife and fork, super filling meal that is easy to make. What goes into your stack is up to your imagination and what you have in your refrigerator that day. No rules!

If you try this I'd love to hear what you put in yours!

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Open Face Burgers on Polenta

Ingredients - 

4                  Burgers - can be vegetarian, vegan, single meat burger or any meat combination you like.
2 C              Your favorite flavorful Polenta Recipe (see below for what I did this time)
                 Eggs (if vegan I would try topping with some runny cashew cheese)
1                  Avocado cut into slices
4                  Thin slices of your favourite cheese (I used sandwich slices)
Spinach or lettuce leaves
Roasted Garlic and Chili Aioli (for a Vegan sandwich you'll need to change this)
Ketchup or Vegan ketchup
Other ideas - sliced tomato (this makes it a lot juicier, but I was all out yesterday), caramelized fried onions, sauteed mushrooms, pickled jalapeno pepper slices, etc. Use your imagination.

Directions - 

Using your favourite recipe, start the polenta in a pan on the stovetop. Cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

While the polenta is cooking, lay out all the other ingredients you want to use and prepare any that need slicing. (Note - note if adding carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms, I would cook them ahead of time and just reheat in the microwave. Other wise it gets too crazy.)

Next heat a frying pan and cook your burgers. As an alternate you could prepare them on your BBQ Grill.  If finished before the polenta, place them on a plate in a low oven to keep them warm. As soon as polenta is finished, prepare you eggs in your favorite way trying to leave the yolks at least a little runny (or warm your runny cashew cheese). 

Set out 4 plates (warmed would be a nice touch).  Spread 1/2 C of polenta in the circle a little larger than your burger patty.  Squeeze a zig zag patter of Aioli on top.  Add a a piece of cheese, then a small bit of greenery.  How you stack the layers after that is up to you.  But the top layer is the egg so when you cut into it the yolk rolls down the sides of the stack.  

I squirted a little ketchup on top, but that is optional. I just thought it looked fun and Glen loves ketchup on his burgers.  You could also decorate the top with onions, mushrooms, jalapeno slices, chopped herbs, sliced olives, etc. They sky's the limit. 

Polenta - 

What I tried this time was 1/2 chopped sweet onion and 1 clove minced garlic sautéed first. Then I
added 3 cups vegetable broth and after it came to a boil, I stirred in 1 cup corn meal, whisking vigorously until it started to thicken. Then turned to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. I added salt, pepper and 2 ounces of cream cheese when done and stirred well. It was may a bit thicker than I liked for this recipe, but def didn't want it runny or soupy either.  

There are literally thousands of polenta recipes that range from very creamy to firm enough to cut once cooled. The  last you could cut round bun shapes and fry them first. I suggest you try a few to learn what appeals to you.