Building a Better Burger for the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project

Although your typical burger generally doesn’t conjure up images of wellness and sustainability, the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project is a movement to change that by making burgers more healthful for eaters and better for the environment. Simply by blending ground meat with chopped mushrooms, you get a delicious patty that starts out lower in saturated fat and with a smaller carbon foodprint.

Featured-Items-BlendedBurgerProject-JamesBeardBon Appétit chefs are quite familiar with the “stealth nutrition” approach of the blended burger, so it was no surprise that one entered the James Beard Foundation contest. Below, Executive Chef Tony Smoody of our Michelson and Morley restaurant at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland shares his original recipe for a blended burger that he submitted for the contest. (Vote for his burger here! The top 5 chefs win a trip to the historic James Beard House in New York City.)

“Finding new and creative ways to be more sustainable and healthful is just something we do here at Bon Appétit,” said Tony. “I was inspired to take on the challenge because I knew I could come up with a great blend utilizing high-quality ingredients from two of our best local partners, New Creation Farm and CWRU Farm.”

You can find Tony’s all-local blended burger with tomato-tarragon jam on the menu at Michelson and Morley all summer long. This mouthwatering creation is made from New Creation Farm pasture-raised beef blended with CWRU Farm cellar mushrooms, served with house-made tomato-tarragon jam, Middlefield Cheese Co-Op’s smoked Pepper Jack, and Red Basket Farm greens on a Stone Oven Bakery brioche bun.

Take a picture of your blended burger — Tony’s or another! — and tag us on Twitter (@bamco) or Instagram (@bonappetitmgt) using the hashtag #BlendedBurgerProject.


Chef Tony’s Blended Beef-Mushroom Burger
With house-made tomato-tarragon jam and smoked Pepper Jack cheese
Yield: 10 burgers (4-5 ounce patties)

smoody burgerTomato-tarragon jam

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • salt and pepper

Drain diced tomatoes in a colander to remove excess moisture.

In a medium saucepan, cook the tomatoes, sugar, and apple cider vinegar over medium heat at a simmer until the volume has reduced by half, approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and mix in tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then set aside.

The Blend

  • 1 pound oyster or shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • 2-1/2 pounds 80/20 ground beef (or leaner, if desired)
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 burger buns
  • 10 slices smoked Pepper Jack cheese
  • House-made tomato-tarragon jam (see above)
  • lettuce for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté the mushrooms with shallots until golden brown and soft, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the sweet vermouth to deglaze the pan, scraping free any brown bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to a cutting board to mince and then let cool.

After the mushroom mixture has cooled, add it to the ground beef to mix together. Season with salt and pepper and then form patties.

Grill each patty for approximately 5 minutes per side. Place patty on bun and top with cheese, tomato-tarragon jam, and lettuce to enjoy.


_MG_2343About Executive Chef Tony Smoody: Born and raised in Cleveland, Tony found his passion for cooking at an early age by watching his grandfather and godmother in the kitchen and helping them in their home gardens. He has been with Bon Appétit Management Company since 2007. Tony is the executive chef for Michelson and Morley at Case Western Reserve University and for the Cleveland Botanical Garden, for which Bon Appétit also manages the dining operations.

About Michelson and Morley: Located inside CWRU’s Tinkham Veale University Center, this American-style bistro serves a variety of local and seasonal snacks, small plates, pizzas, sandwiches, and entrées. Make a reservation online.