Turkey burgers get a bad rap, either for being a too-healthy or for the (legitimate) reason that they’re often dry and less flavorful than their beefy counterparts.
But with a hot grill and an open mind, there are ways to combat both of these problems. Turkey burgers don’t have to be boring just because they’re better for you.
Five Tips for Perfect Turkey Burgers!
1. Go to the dark side. Turkey, like chicken, has white and dark meat sections. The breast is only slightly better for you, (says New York Times writer Anahad O’Connor), while the dark meat (thighs and legs) will make for a more flavorful burger. So leave the “extra lean” Jennie-O for when you’re counting calories and get regular ground turkey; it still has 30 percent less fat than beef.
2. Carbo-load. Whether it’s fresh bread crumbs, flaky panko or even leftover rice and canned beans, turkey burgers benefit from a little filler. You don’t want too high a ratio, unless you’d rather make meatloaf, but bread acts as a binder and helps hang on to extra moisture, which will make the burgers juicier.
3. Spice it up. Turkey loves Southwestern spices, like serrano chiles, garlic and cumin. Take a riff on a steam bun with an Asian turkey burger (care of Serious Eats) made with cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and spicy Sriracha mayonnaise. Or make a detour through Oaxaca with coriander, cinnamon, ancho chili and chipotle salsa (thanks to Lynn Rossetto Kasper and “The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper”). And what’s better than a burger stuffed with cheese…?
4. Flip it. You may have heard conflicting evidence on this, but it’s actually OK to flip a burger more than once, and it may even lead to a faster cooking time. Keep an eye on your flame (medium-high is good), and estimate about 10 minutes for a juicy burger. Give the burgers a few minutes to rest while you throw your buns on to toast.
5. Mix up your toppings. Step off, ketchup. Try smoked gouda cheese and a horseradish-mustard-honey spread. Try tomato-mango chutney made with cilantro and lime. Combine tomato, jam, olives and feta for a sweet-salty topping, or take a North African twist with a yogurt-based dressing with lemon juice, cumin and cayenne.
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