In my quest to feed my family less red meat, I tackled the turkey burger last night. Ever since my friend Rory told me he would not eat any ground poultry, I too have had a bit of an aversion to it. I’m a big fan of both chicken and turkey but something about making burgers, meatballs, or Bolognese with them just turned me off-texturally and taste-wise it wasn’t my thing.
But, I sucked it up and tried it again last night. I bought a pound of ground dark meat turkey from my local butcher. That is the first important step! Ground meat has a short shelf life and commercial meat processors add who-knows-what when they pre-grind the stuff. Always buy it from a butcher who will grind it fresh at the store. Dark meat is essential too. The white meat on turkey (or chicken for that matter) is so darn lean that no matter what you do to it in a burger, you’ll be eating dry shoe leather.
After reading several hints and tips for keeping the meat moist, I settled on the idea of loading it up with onions and garlic. The onions, finely chopped and raw in the mixture, release lots of their natural liquid as the turkey burger cooks. This not only keeps it from drying out but it seasons the meat as well. A drop of Worcestershire, salt, pepper, an egg, and a tbs of flour (to about a pound of meat)-I mixed it all very gently so as not to toughen the meat and made the patties. I let them rest in the fridge for a few hours and then brought them to room temp before cooking.
Now to tackle the cooking method. The trick was a nice crusty exterior with a moist interior while still cooking them all the way through. I seared the patties off in a pan with a bit of olive oil then transferred them to a baking sheet once they were well browned. I was already roasting broccoli in a 425 degree oven so I popped the burgers in there and in about 10 minutes they were perfect. When I pressed on the tops I got just enough resistence to indicate they were done (firm with only a tiny bit of ‘push’). You can also use a meat thermometer-they should register about 155 as they’ll keep cooking to reach 165 before you eat them.
I made a relish of fennel and onion with a little apricot jam and champagne vinegar-just cooked the veggies nice and slow until they caramelized then added the jam and vinegar. I served them open faced with some Dijon and Romaine.
I did all the right things. The were incredibly juicy, my son inhaled them, and my husband gave my the thumbs up. We ate them so fast I didn’t even take a picture! If you’re going for a turkey burger, try this method, it’s definitely a winner.