Friday, March 17, 2006


The burger you see here is not a failed hamburger. It is not to a real burger what crystal light is to orange juice. It is its own thing. The virtue of being less bad for you than a beefy burger should not be held against it.

Because it is less fatty than beef, ground turkey needs help to stay moist when you cook it. When I make meatloaf out of turkey I add sauteed apples and onions. When I make turkey burgers, I add olive oil, lime juice, minced scallions, and cilantro. Sometimes I add cumin, which gives them a more pronounced southwestern accent, and if I'm feeling industrious I zest the lime before squeezing it and add some of that too, which makes these into turkey-lime burgers. You might think of adding breadcrumbs or matzo meal and egg but that gives them more of a meatballs/meatloaf texture. Not my preference.

A few warnings: do not buy ground turkey breast. It has little flavor and no moisture. Pay more attention to garnishing than you would with a beef patty. Beef has more flavor than turkey and it can carry the day practically all by itself (though I was tempted to order the burger on the menu in one place we went to in Vancouver, Feenie's, with optional extras of bacon, foie gras, and beef short ribs). And use a nonstick pan. These can probably be made in a very hot, well oiled regular pan, but it's much easier to avoid having your burgers crumble to pieces using nonstick.

Turkey burgers with chipotle mayo and sauteed onions

For the burgers:
1 lb. ground turkey
2 scallions, minced
a big handful of cilantro, minced
juice of half a lime + zest (optional)
a tbs, more or less, olive oil
salt, black and cayenne pepper
oil for cooking
whole wheat buns

For the chiptole mayo:
half a chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
a few spoonfuls of mayo

For the onions:
one large yellow onion or two smallish ones, sliced
oil for cooking

To make the mayo, combine and tinker with amounts until it's as hot as you like. It should kick like Jackie Chan.

To cook the onions, get the pan very hot, add a bit of oil and wait for it to get hot too, and then cook the onions, sprinkled with salt, over medium high heat. Stir frequently until they are as soft and dark as you like and put them in a bowl.

To make the burgers, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Form into three patties.

Heat some oil in a big nonstick pan until very hot and cook the burgers about five minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Internal temp should be at least 160 (but it's hard to overcook these, in my experience, with their added fat and moisture). It's important to keep the pan hot because when moisture runs off the burgers you want it to evaporate right away, not bubble around the corners and spoil the nice crust you're forming against the pan. Meanwhile, toast your buns.

Serve with chipotle mayo and onions. You might also try some Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes buy those frozen turkey burgers for when I'm too lazy to cook, but this sounds great. I'm all over this next weekend.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like to make turkey meatloaf with chopped spinach and tarragon, and garlic, an idea I got from an article in the NYTimes some time ago. It occurs to me, now that I'm all obsessed with the new grinder attachment I got for my kitchenaid, that some freshly ground turkey thighs might make me an improved loaf.

Or burger. These look really good. I hadn't thought to try burgers, because I was sure they'd fall apart on me, but I see that it is possible to keep the burger in one piece. I like the lime chipotle flavor scheme you have here, too.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been in a burger phase lately -- tofu, cheese, chicken... your turkey burger's inspiration. it's just not as easy to get turkey here now.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy!!! That looks really good

7:15 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

i think turkey needs no apologies.

when i make those morroccan kefta from roden's cookbook that i wrote about, i use this very delicious kosher ground turkey and enjoy it as such. i think turkey picks up sweet, warm aromatic flavors well and the kefta have a tiny pinch each of cumin, coriander, ginger and ground red pepper in them in them . . . like your burgers, i cook them as if they were meatballs in a pan with just a little skin of oil. the last batch were, according to my partner in crime, the platonic ideal of kefta . . . but would a platonic ideal really taste good?

9:56 AM  
Blogger Papilles et Pupilles said...

It looks great !

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cod recommends salt in a skillet over teflon. I've been trying to rid my life of teflon, so I'm anxious to try.

8:37 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

salt in the pan is so old school. that is the way harald cooked his meatballs, in The Group. it works for me and it makes the meat taste so good.

10:15 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm all in favor of salt in a hot, dry pan for hamburgers, as I discussed in September. I would worry a bit about the turkey falling apart but I'll give it a try the next time I'm making these and report back.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

I have never Tried turkey burger but i love those subway ones.. A must try at the Bachelor cooking...

how u guys doing btw.. long time

2:42 AM  
Blogger Genevieve said...

ah, that looks good. the way you feel about turkey i feel about tofu.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Genevieve said...

ah, that looks good. the way you feel about turkey i feel about tofu.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I just say that I although I appreciate turkey as long as I don't have to eat it (birds look like dragons to me), that I don't understand exactly the beef against animal fat is all about.

Over here in Fort Europe, we eat tons of animal fat in all of its forms, and you don't see folks here having health problems in relation to the quantities eaten. I dare you to stand in line at a French butcher's. A little old (OLD = not dead yet) lady will take 20 minutes ordering cuts of meat for two meat meals a day. And you shouldn't follow her to the cheese guy or the egg guy or the chicken guy. The French do little else aside from eating meat, and you don't see them having a problem with it.

Animal fat is not bad for you. Not from a cow, not from a pig, not from a chicken, not on top of a glass of real milk straight from the cow.

It also doesn't make you fat. IF you don't eat it in combination with carbohydrates - something that takes a little bit of work to learn how to do.

Not exercising is bad for you. Not drinking red wine is bad for you. Not having happiness and a family around you is bad for you.

But YOU MZN, you have all of those things.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the turkey burger does look good though.

1:35 PM  

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