Pulled Pork vs. Portobello Mushroom – Which is Healthier?
This week, it’s Battle of the Burgers.
In one corner, we have the delicious, juicy Pulled Pork Burger. In the other, we have the spectacular veggie treat, the Portobello Mushroom Burger.
Naughty – Pulled Pork Burger
The best thing about pulled pork is its melty tenderness – the kind that you don’t often find in meat, and certainly not in a burger.
This tenderness is down to two main things. Firstly, the meat is slow-cooked, and this separates and breaks down the protein fibres, softening the meat and making it less chewy. So far, so good, but then comes the bad news. Some of that lovely juiciness is thanks to the fact that pulled pork is generally made from the fattiest cuts of the meat, such as pork shoulder. Compare that with a traditional beef burger.
While it probably won’t use the leanest cuts on the beast, will generally be lower in fat than pork shoulder. Plus the way a traditional-style burger is usually cooked – grilled – allows a lot of the fat to drain away.
To make pulled pork, the meat is usually rubbed with a spicy marinade, then slow-cooked for several hours. When it comes out of the oven, it’s ‘pulled’ or shredded, and mixed with a smoky-flavoured barbecue sauce. And this can also let the nutritional side down, as it’s generally rather like ketchup, which means high in sugar – meaning more calories. The salt levels can be high, too, and too much salt can raise your blood pressure.
Nice – Portobello Mushroom Burger
That’s not a burger, I hear you say! It’s a mushroom in a bun! But what a mushroom.
Portobello mushrooms are huge in size and taste. Their flavour and texture when cooked is often described as ‘meaty’, so why not use them to make a healthy, vegetarian substitute for a beefburger?
The basic ingredient – that mega-mushroom – is fat-free (and what’s more, that means none of the especially bad saturated fats you get from meat).
It’s also packed with fibre, and vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, potassium and the B vitamins. The mushroom is seasoned with salt and pepper (and sometimes some herbs), and drizzled with some oil (hopefully an unsaturated oil), before grilling. That’s when the magic takes place, and the ’shroom turns dark, juicy and delicious.
Then all that remains is to lay it reverently in a bun, top with some cheese, and enjoy. Now, the cheese can let this healthy treat down, being high in fat, calories and salt – so go for the lowest-fat option you can. If you have a choice, choose mozzarella – it’s lower in fat than hard cheeses like Cheddar or Jack cheese, but still deliciously melty.
Now pick a winner!