Many inexpensive indoor models produce results surprisingly similar to what you can get from a standard backyard grill

Among the big challenges with any burger, however you cook it, is keeping the patty moist, flavorful and light.

I've found that one of the best ways to achieve all these qualities is to incorporate into the mixture some moist cooked vegetables of the sort that are sometimes referred to as "meaty," especially eggplant and mushrooms.

Doing this also achieves two other desirable goals: it makes the meat go farther; and it sneaks some vegetables into children, or other family members, who might otherwise resist them. Such a treatment works well not just with the usual beef used to make burgers but also with any other kind of ground meat or poultry you might like to use.

Serve these indoor-grilled burgers with eggplant and mushrooms, accompanied by sliced tomatoes, pickles, lettuce leaves, and your favorite condiments. Or plate them bunless, with your favorite tomato sauce or with a sauce of more sauteed mushrooms and garlic that you simmer with canned broth until the liquid reduces and thickens.

Add mashed potatoes and a side of other vegetables that you've cooked on the indoor grill, and there you have it: a delicious indoor winter cookout!

Indoor-Grilled Burgers with Eggplant & Mushrooms

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook time: 20 minutes

    Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Indoor-Grilled Burgers with Eggplant & Mushrooms Ingredients

    4 slices globe eggplant, each about 1/2 inch thick

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the eggplant

    2 medium shallots, minced

    1/2 pound organic mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and coarsely chopped


    Freshly ground black pepper

    1/2 cup heavy organic cream

    2 pounds ground organic beef, pork, veal, lamb, turkey, chicken, or any combination you like

    2 large cage-free eggs, lightly beaten

    2 tablespoons minced garlic

    2 teaspoons ground cumin

    1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Indoor-Grilled Burgers with Eggplant & Mushrooms Recipe Instructions

    Preheat an electric panini maker or a double-sided countertop grill.

    Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with some olive oil.

    Place them in the panini maker or grill, close the lid, and cook until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. (Alternatively, cook them under a hot broiler, turning once, about 6 to 8 minutes total.)

    Turn off the heat, remove the eggplant slices to a plate, and let them cool.

    Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and saute them, stirring frequently, until they turn pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring frequently, until they have softened, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

    Pour in the cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to form a fairly thick paste, with no excess liquid, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

    Chop the cooled eggplant and add it to the mixing bowl along with the ground meat, eggs, garlic, cumin, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.

    Reheat the panini maker or double-sided grill (or heat a large skillet over medium-high heat).

    With moistened hands, form the mixture into large, square patties about 3-by-3 inches and 3/4 inch thick.

    Place as many patties on the cooking surface as will fit comfortably, close the lid, and cook until nicely browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. (Or heat a little olive oil in the skillet and cook the patties for 3-1/2 to 4 minutes per side.)

    Transfer the Burgers with Eggplant & Mushrooms to a heated platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you cook any remaining batches.


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