Well here it is, my first ever posting on the Kamman family blog. Per Brittany’s demands request, I’ll be sharing with you all one of her favorite recipes that I make on the grill; turkey burgers.
The most important thing to know about ground turkey before starting is that it is, by nature, dry and relatively tasteless. With beef you simply want to help accent its natural flavor, but with turkey you have to decide what you want it to taste like. Therefore, I use a lot of different flavoring ingredients to make it palatable, as well as moist and cohesive.
Here we go…
1lb of ground turkey
Egg whites (I use the stuff out of a carton)
barbecue sauce (I prefer Sweet Bay Ray’s, available at any supermarket)
Before we start, you should know that when I cook my own recipes I don’t ever use measuring devices. I do this so I’m not ever eating the exact same thing, and because I feel like it would take the fun out of cooking. I enjoy cooking because you can color outside of the lines but still enjoy delicious food that is your own. Put the measuring spoons down and use your eyes, nose and tongue to decide where to add more, stop, or sometimes decide you might need to fish a little of that pepper out of there.
What will help with not measuring any of the ingredients is to understand the balance that we are trying to achieve with the turkey burger. We want to take this dry, bland meat, and tranform it into something that is moist, tasty and that will hold its patty shape. Therefore, we have to add liquids to make it moist, as well as binders that will allow you to mold it and keep it from falling apart. Two of our liquids serve as moistening as well as flavoring agents; the bbq sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The egg whites however, act as both a moistening and binding agent. When combined with the bread crumbs, this mixture will help to harden the burger and maintain it’s patty shape. These four ingredients are going to make or break your burger in terms of cohesiveness and workability. These are to be added a little at a time until you can feel in your hands a consistency that will hold itself together. And yes, you are getting your hands in there and mixing it yourself. There is no other way, as far as I see it, to be able to tell when you have reached the perfect patty-forming ratio of moistness and viscosity. The rest of the ingredients, the pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper, are simply flavoring ingredients. These can be added at the end, but I prefer to mix these in the bowl first. That way I can see exactly how much of each ingredient I am adding. What I have found to be true, however, is that it is always more than you would think. Don’t be stingy with flavor! Remember, you are going to be tasting what you add to the meat, not really the meat itself. After you’ve added all of your ingredients make sure to spend a few extra moments mixing with your hands. It can take a while to get all of those ingredients mixed thoroughly.
After the mixing has been completed, divide the meat into four patties. I find a pound of meat yeilds 4 perfectly sized burgers.
For each patty, before you start flattening, form the meat into balls in your hands and compress each one by tossing them back and forth between your hands like you are getting ready to throw a pitch. This will help the meat work itself together and devoid your patties of empty cavities that will make the meat fall apart after its cooked. After your ball is formed, begin to work it in a general patty shape in your hands, but don’t finish it in your hands! Put it on a plate or baking sheet that you’ve previously oiled, and finalize the shape on the the flat surface. Your hands are not flat, and you will never get a flat burger out of your hands. Using your fingers, work the meat in circles slowly as it flattens out. If you do this too fast the meat will separate and will crack on the grill and fall apart. Our goal is to make a patty that is circular in shape with no cracks around the edges, and if you take your time and mind the edges while you work it can be done. After your patties are about 1/2″ thick, or a bit wider than the buns you are using (they will shrink on the grill), pop them in the freezer. I do this because it makes it a million times easier to get the sticky patties off of the plate with a grill spatula and onto the grill quickly and efficiently.
Once your patties are in the freezer, now is when you prepare a plate of tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, or whatever else you or your guests want on your burger. Wrap it in saran wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Warm up the grill, scrape it off, and your burgers should be solid enough to get started.
Get your burgers on the grill, close it, and crack open a Mickey’s 40. Let them cook on one side until your are halfway done with your beer (about 5-6 minutes), and flip. Right before you finish your Mickey’s throw your cheese on and close the grill again. Put your bottle in the recycling and get your burgers off the grill. LET THEM SIT FOR 5 MINUTES! These babies are still cooking even though they are off the grill. Go get your condiments on your bun, get your patty on there, and enjoy. And while you are enjoying that burger, remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfection. Next time you can add more seasoning or less bread crumbs, depending on what you may have added too much of, or not enough. It’s about what you like to eat and having fun while you’re making it.