The turkey burger. The humble cousin of the American classic beef burger. The dry, crumbly, healthier version of a legend. To me, turkey burgers and sweet potato fries represent a bridge from the American cuisine I grew up with to the health oriented, gourmet style scene that American food is becoming. There was a time when offering a turkey burger and sweet potato fries was akin to shining a Bat Signal in the sky to people who had any interest in eating healthy. Throw in a few house made soups and an espresso machine and you had yourself a healthy cafe. The turkey burger was a symbol of all that.
Back then when you “ate healthy” you accepted that the food you ate wasn’t going to be that good. Dried out turkey patties, vegetarian options loaded with pasta and cheese… good, healthy restaurant food takes a certain finesse and passion that most places didn’t place a premium on. As their customers changed, many restaurants did with them, and thankfully now we can get some options that make us feel better about our waistline (and the planet) all over the country.
Except we’re at home and we can eat as deliciously healthy as we choose. So skip the sleeve of frozen turkey pucks and make your own.
Serves 4 – Takes 30 minutes
- One pound of ground dark turkey meat. White meat is acceptable but dark is better. More flavor.
- One bunch of scallions
- One knuckle of fresh ginger (powdered if you have to but the fresh stuff is best)
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Olive oil
- Sea or Kosher Salt
- Cracked black pepper
Put the meat in a mixing bowl. Three dashes of soy, three dashes of worcestershire sauce. One dash of olive oil. Two pinches of good salt and several grinds of black pepper. Take a piece of ginger half the size of a man’s thumb and grate it with a zester or the fine side of a cheese grater until it’s almost gone.
Mix it up with your hands. Use a glove if you want.
Then, take a quarter of the meat and place on a piece of foil or plastic wrap. Use another piece to squish the patty thin and flat. This helps it cook quickly and get more grill flavor per bite. I leave them between the sheets until it’s time to get them on the grill / in the pan. Repeat until you have 4 patties per pound.
Grill is better, almost always. Stove top is fine too. If you’re in a pan heat up some oil before you place the patty in. If on a grill, turn the thing on high and close the lid for awhile. Let it get real hot. Charcoal? Be a grill master. Enjoy the day.
Once your cooking surface is white hot, place your burgers on. Do not squish the burger. Do not flip the burger. Do not touch the burger. If you’re at a party with a lot of guys who want to contribute to the grilling, appoint one of them to be sergeant at arms and tackle anyone who tries to touch the patties.
Let the patty cook until some moisture starts to pool on the uncooked side. 4-5 minutes. Flip over. Give it another couple minutes,
Want cheese on it? Cheese and Asian flavors don’t have a long and fruitful history but why not. Place room temp cheese on the patty as soon as you flip it. Close the lid to the grill or place a piece of foil over the pan to help melt it fast. Don’t overcook the meat to melt the cheese.