There was a time when meat free alternatives to hamburgers were buried in the bottom shelf of the freezer case of most grocery stores. Names like Boca and Morningstar Farms were familiar to people trying to avoid animal flesh in their diet while still being able to attend backyard cookouts.
My oh my, have the times changed. The meat free hamburger patties from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat—the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger respectively—have become the “hot” food items. Maybe not quite Popeye’s Chicken sandwich territory but popular nonetheless. Heck, the Burger King near my place of employment has a banner advertising the availability of the Impossible Whopper. Who would have thought that possible just a few short years ago?
Naturally, as food startups have conducted an insurgency with regard to meat free alternatives the big food companies have not been ignorant or complacent when it comes to the category. On a recent trip to the grocery store I came across two new entries:
Raised and Rooted is Tyson Foods brand that is going after the meat free market. Sweet Earth Foods was an independent company making meat free that was acquired in 2017 by food giant Nestle USA. Yes, the Raised and Rooted patties were on sale for $3. Gotta’ love HyVee’s manager’s specials.
I could spend a lot of time going over the ingredients and what not. Suffice it to say, these are fairly standard “next generation” meat free hamburger patties that eschew black beans and soy for pea protein and coconut oil.
The two patties look fairly different before getting placed on the grill:
I apologize for not getting some after grilling photos for educational purposes, but dinner was coming together at the same time and the kids were hungry. Sometimes life just takes over.
Surprisingly, the Raised and Rooted patty was pretty good. It was good in a fast food innocuous meat kind of way. The kind of patty that provides enough of a base for some serious condiments. The patty had enough texture and bite without being overly dense. This is probably the greatest trick for any fake meat hamburger patty to master as traditional hamburger patties have a strange mixture of crumbly meat and patty integrity.
I am also thankful that the Raised and Rooted patty did not try and emulate any “bleed” from the cooked burger. I feel that this is the most hyped and unnecessary component of the Impossible Burger. I do not need a patty to leak a puddle of ersatz meat juice as long as it tastes good.
The Awesome Burger from Sweet Earth Foods was wrong in all the ways that Boca Burgers of the past were guilty. It cooked down to a dense, somewhat dry puck of protein with a strangely vegetal aftertaste. This the kind of patty that someone tries once and is done for life. Come to think of it, the patty exhibited many of the same sins that a frozen pizza from the same company possessed. It is not enough in this day and age to be just a plant based alternative. It has to be plant based and good.