Time to Re-invent the Patty Melt!

(aka Not-Your-Mother’s Patty Melt)

The NYM Patty Melt browned in just enough olive oil to make it seem sinful
(but no cheese and no meat!)

When I was kid growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, whenever we went to a restaurant, the ultimate sandwich — and one I could not resist — was the Patty Melt.  It was a square hamburger on a square toasted bun (usually) that was oozing and dripping and loaded with melted cheese and butter all over it – anything else about it was insignificant.

The Patty Melt was a hamburger taken to Mach 1 in terms oiliness, cheesiness, and saturated fat levels that must have rocketed off the charts.  Of course it was ‘good.’  Anything that is essentially fried and stuffed full of fats, oils, and cheese is going to taste good to most humans – even a piece of cardboard or shoe leather could be made more or less edible under those circumstances. 

I wouldn’t doubt that the FDA has banned patty melts or at least taken steps to discourage restaurants and eateries from serving these gooey cheesy fat bombs.  By the time the 1980’s rolled around, patty melts and other fat laden beef sandwiches and meals were publicly labeled “heart attacks on a plate.”

So why not forget the Patty Melt and just be done with it’s oily, cheesy siren call – no matter how good it tasted, or how delightful the crunch of the toasted buttered bun…?

Well, I think we obviously don’t need the beef, the saturated fats, the dairy products, all the bad stuff… But what if we could recapture some of the taste?  What if we could recreate some of that delicious, indulgent, sensuous ooziness balanced with the same toasted crispyness that everyone loved? 

A brand new kind of Patty Melt? Yes, I say it can be done, and in a wonderful healthy way. I have therefore re-invented the Patty Melt, and here it is: 

The Not-Your-Mother’s Patty Melt

(it has no meat and no cheese – doesn’t need them!)

Basically, the NYM Patty Melt consists of a spicy red or black bean patty (square shaped, of course!) on any kind of whole wheat toasted bread. And then …

(For this Sandwich, any good bean patty recipe will do, but here is one that I like🙂

  • About 1 cup of beans per patty (canned or cooked from scratch, well drained) Multiply this and the below per each patty you make
  • Mash the beans into a paste in a mixing bowl using a fork
  • Season the paste with: a little salt and pepper, 2-3 squirts of Soy Sauce, 2-3 squirts of Tabasco sauce, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of paprika
  • add 1/4 cup Panko crumbs, or dried bread crumbs (or crushed saltines)
  • add 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped celery
  • add 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped onion
  • If the mixture looks a little dry at this point, add a little olive oil or water, just enough to help it hold together.
  • Now mix and mash it all together (I use my hands) and form the mixture into a one inch thick square, about 4″ X 4″ (mash it to 1/2 inch thick in the pan)
  • You can now bake it, broil it, fry it, grill it on the stove, or out on the barbeque pit. Whatever suits your fancy. Cook them as well or lightly as you like, because unlike animal meat, they don’t need to be cooked through.

So now your patty is ready — Time for the Piece de Resistance!:

Here’s the deal – you heat up a smaller frying pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Then you put the lightly toasted slices of bread in the pan, moving them around some so they can soak up the olive oil – and let them come to a golden crisp on one side only.

  • Not finished yet! – Keep that frying pan out, put in another tablespoon of olive oil.  Now you are going to add about a half cup (per sandwich) of coarsely chopped Red Onion. Stir it about until the onions are thoroughly softened and just about “carmelized.”  Scoop the gooey, sort of carmelized onions onto a spatula and place them on top of the red bean patty.

Now you’re almost ready to eat –  Place your warm, onion laden bean patty on one piece of toasty bread; Put whatever condiments you like on the non-toasted side of the other bread slice (some great “veganaise” is out there) and you are ready to start cruising down memory lane with an NYM Patty Melt.

Pan cooked red bean patty — almost square — with sinfully sauteed red onions on top.

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