Friday, June 29, 2012

Turkey Burgers With Thoughtful Toppings

Turkey Burgs.  It's recipes like this that my husband will always say, "have you blogged this yet?"  I admit that I haven't because it's "just a turkey burger."  But if it's something I'm making often, it's probably worth blogging.  (Note: Coming soon... a whole month worth of "embarrassingly simple" recipes... stay tuned!)

I married a burger guy.  So a patty between two buns enters our menu often, but it doesn't have to be pre-made beef with american cheese and ketchup.   You can do better than that!  And still keep your meat eaters happy.

When building a burger, think of the main components and play the "this in place of that" game.   It's fun for guests and much of the prep can be done before hand.  You can have a few varying options, and every burger looks a little extra special.

Here's how my burger-storming goes in my head:

Meat: turkey instead of beef (also try bison, adding a fried egg or a mixture of two proteins)

Cheese: herbed goat instead of cheddar (also try aged white cheddar, or a spicy or smoky cheese)

Bun: fluffy wheat roll instead of white (also try fun seeds, homemade buns, ciabatta, or even bunless)

Greens: arugula instead of lettuce (greens that wilt are great: spinach, basil etc... also mache or frisee is lovely and slightly bitter)

Onions: balsalmic carmellized red instead of raw white (feel free to try pickled onion, fun relish, or grilled onion for that smoky hint)

Veg: sauteed bell pepper instead of tomato (go crazy here... the more veggies the better, think about what might compliment the cheese and the meat you have chosen- apple? pickle?)

Then think about the WHY... the turkey is a little lighter than beef, so I upped the flavor profile with the goat cheese for tang, the sweet from the onions and the bitter and bite from the arugula.  Right about now Chris will ask "where's the bacon?"  I love bacon, but let's let the other flavors shine this time, okay honey?

Noelle's Turkey Burgers (makes three to four)

Approx a pound of turkey (little more is fine)

1/4 cup panko bread crums

1 egg

1 tbls of dried minced onion

1 tsp of garlic salt

1 tsp of dried parsley

1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper

whole wheat buns

1 bell pepper

1/2 large red onion

sea salt

1 tbls olive oil

1 tbls balsalmic vinegar

1 log of herbed goat cheese

2 cups arugala

Start with making your patties.  Throw you egg and the dried ingredients in.   And now for a helpful tip.

"Incoporate, don't macerate."  The meat has already been ground.  Mix the ingredients just enough, over-smashing will do you no good. Delicate handling makes for juicy patties.  You could leave the egg out, but because turkey is leaner, you need a little more fat for a juicy burger.

Cardinal burger rule: fat is good. We are going for juicy here, not a CLIF Bar.   Those are for hiking, not for dinner.

I like to make a few extra and freeze them in zip locks. A easy dinner for a later evening.

Give your onions some time.   I usually do the onions first, then do the bell pepper in the same pan just before serving- keeping a little more bite to them.

In a medium heated pan, add your olive oil.   Add your onions, cut into semi-circles.  Salt them so they will sweat a bit.  I like to cover mine for the first 15 min, keeping in all the moisture.   Tossing the pan frequently.  After the desired texture is achieved, splash in the vinegar and cook about 5 minutes longer.   Enough time to cook out the vinegar, but allow the onions to soak up that lovely aged flavor.

Your grill pan should be medium high.  Burgers are ready to go on.   A little oil to get them going.   Plus you want a good sear.  Just like a steak, the seat will secure the juices.

3-4 minutes each side (totaling 7-8 minutes).  And remember to rest them about 7-8 minutes after taking them off the pan.

While burgers are cooking, set onions aside and do a quick five minute sautee on the bell pepper.

Then build your creation. I like a LOT of goat cheese.   I believe every bite should taste each topping, so the assembly is important.

Short story... when I was a little girl I wanted to "work at Subway when I grew up."  I was so fascinated with the assembly.  I would watch them place each topping on the sandwich.   Every now and then you got the guy who could care less about placement... all the pickles on one end, the mustard was not evenly distributed... AHHHHHHHH the worst!  To this day, I always express my appreciation when my sandwich is built with care and "evenness."  Okay, so this is where my type A creeps out.

So load it up, respect the toppings and chew long.  Do share what variations you like to experiment with!  I'm always open to new ideas.

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