This weekend I held a little party and taste test between two popular brands of plant-based ground "beef". The Impossible and Beyond brands. I've eaten both fairly regularly since they've become available at grocery stores, but never side by side. For a long time, only the Beyond brand was available at my local grocery store and I thought it was really damn good. I had the Impossible at restaurants and thought it was pretty good too. I haven't eaten meat in almost 6 years, so my memory of what it tastes like is a little fuzzy, but I thought both were a good replacement and satisfied my cravings. Impossible recently became available at my local Wegmans, so I decided to invite a few friends over and see which was better.
I made 3 dishes that I thought were classics for ground beef and prepared both of them exactly the same way. I even measured ingredients. For those that know me, you know I don't usually measure.
Sliders with caramelized onions on sweet rolls. I let the taste testers decide if they wanted to add other condiments (mayo, ketchup), but the had to add the same to both.
12oz of the "meat"
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Mixed together and formed into 10 patties about 2 inches in diameter. I made the patties the day before and just browned them to help them hold together. Before the party, I put them back into the oven to warm up and finish cooking.
Impossible won this round by a landslide. It's possible the cooking method dried out the Beyond a bit making it tougher. I've found the Beyond to be fairly moist when cooked on the stovetop, but it does get a little crunchy crust. The Impossible never did, leading some folks to comment that it had a texture closer to a real burger.
Next up were tacos. Guests had choice of corn or flour tortillas and additions of cabbage, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, squeeze of lime and taco sauce.
I sauteed 16oz of each with 1Tbsp of taco seasoning. The Beyond put up a good fight on this one too, but the Impossible brand won by 1 vote. Tasters found the Impossible to not have much flavor, but had good texture. Some liked the taste of the Beyond better for taco filling, but again, the texture was a bit rougher, crunchier. I personally found the Beyond too strong in flavor in the taco, which is why I voted Impossible.
Lastly, spaghetti and meatballs with homemade sauce.
12 oz meat
1 slice white bread
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1Tbsp fresh parsley
Pulse the bread and parsley in a food processor and mix in with other ingredients.
I formed 10 meatballs and browned them on the stove the day before the party. On the day of, I put them in the sauce and let them finish in there, about 30 minutes. Although, some of the Impossible were still pink inside, so maybe I should have given them longer.
Again, Impossible was the overwhelming favorite. Some commented the taste was spot on. The Beyond seemed to have too strong of a flavor that people did not like for this dish.
I'm pretty amazed at the advance in food sciences and glad for it. I miss eating meat. I don't eat it for ethical reasons and am so glad that these companies exist out there. Beyond has great hot Italian sausage which I love. Both brands are working on pork replacements. I can't wait to check these out and see what comes out in the future.