Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 13: Asian Turkey Burgers

What can I say? I am just a huge sucker for a burger. One of the great things about living in the D.C. metro: Five Guys Burgers & Fries. They consistently are on the Washingtonian Magazine list of Cheap Eats, and even better than being budget-conscious, they truly make a consistently perfect, juicy burger with your choice of literally dozens of toppings. It is a place where we regularly take visitors to the city; my mother plans entire visits around scheduled stops at Five Guys.

So, we've tried to back up off the red meat and turkey burgers are rarely as satisfying as the real thing. It's a matter of keeping expectations low and the moisture content high. Otherwise, you're expecting a reduced fat, reduced calorie treat, and instead you have a dried-out hockey puck. You can fight it, like this recipe does, with delicate handling of the burger. Don't pack it together like a snowball. You're not going to hit someone with it. Add moisture to make up for the missing fat--it'll steam the burger a little, protecting it from the harsh, dry heat of the fire or grill pan. And bring on the big flavors here. Fat = flavor, after all. If you're going to take away fat, add flavor in some other form. Most importantly, I think, remember that you're not eating a big, beefy burger. This is a turkey burger. You wouldn't expect a carrot to taste like a hot dog, would you?

I found this on Eating Well. After our good luck with the shiitake-mushroom teriyaki burger topper the other night, I'm totally up for this. Asian and burger go great together. An Asian-style slaw, with sesame oil and scallions and cilantro, would go great with this.

Serves 4.

Asian Turkey Burgers


2 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
12 ounces lean ground turkey breast
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, diced medium
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 hamburger buns

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high.

Place bread in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl. Add ground turkey, water chestnuts, hoisin, scallions, ginger, garlic and salt; mix well. (The mixture will be moist.) With dampened hands, form the mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties.

Oil the grill rack, or spray grill pan with nonstick spray. Brush the patties with sesame oil. Grill until browned and no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should register 165°F.)

Meanwhile, toast buns, if desired, to serve with the burgers. Let the burgers rest for five minutes, loosely tented with foil, and serve.

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