Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Burgers Worth Gobbling Up

Good evening everyone! It’s hard to believe that winter’s cold grasp may finally have been broken. As I sit here today, it’s March 14, and it reached an incredible 80 degrees outside today. 80. In Iowa. In March. Whoa. Whether or not this is actually the first sign of spring or just Mother Nature messing with us has yet to be determined, however. That being said, the nice weather prompts the same reaction from almost everyone; you find the urge to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

That means, even for the avid at home chef, you don’t really want to spend a lot of extra time in the kitchen cooking up tonight’s dish. That’s why, this week, we’re featuring incredibly easy and fast weeknight dinners. They are still healthy and full of flavor, but they’re also incredibly quick and easy to prepare so you can eat a great meal, then make your way outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

As an accidental bonus, Maggie and I both chose recipes that we had tried previously (slightly different than the ones we prepared this week, but very similar) that had us wanting more. They were ‘dud’ recipes, but they certainly had room for improvement. Tonight, I’m taking a second take at the tasty and delicious turkey burger. Can this healthy lean burger be improved and made into a delicious savory weeknight meal? Let’s find out:

The Recipe: Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Original Recipe Found On:

What You’ll Need:
(Serves 4)

1 Pound Ground Turkey
1 Garlic Clove (Minced)
3 Tablespoons Minced Onion (Dried, grated onion can work as a substitute here)
2 Tablespoons Minced Red Bell Pepper (Red pepper flakes works as a substitute here)
1 Tablespoon Minced Green Onion
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Slices Pepper Jack Cheese (Cut into quarters)

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, garlic, minced onion, red bell pepper, green onion, cayenne and cumin. Mix well until everything is evenly combined. Next, break the mixture into about 8 equally sized balls (approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches thick) work these balls into patties either by using your hands or with a hamburger patty press.

Place 4 of the patties onto a plate and top them with two pieces of the pepper jack cheese. Positioning is key here. You want the pepper jack to be as close to the center of the patty as possible. We’ll expand on this in a minute.

Top each of the four patties with another burger patty (the 4 that didn’t receive cheese on top) and create a seal around the edges of the patty. You’ll want to spend a few moments making a nice tight seal. Don’t leave any aggressive ‘pinch’ marks as they will weaken during cooking and cause your cheese to jailbreak and burn up in the skillet. However, don’t be too gentle when making your seal either – you really want to ensure that there is no way molten hot cheese can break free from the patty.

This is why you’ll want to keep your cheese as close to the center as possible. If it gets too close to the edge, it could get caught up in the seal that you create, causing a ‘breach’ during cooking and resulting in the loss of all that melt-a-licious goodness.

Another method for making a great cheese infused patty is to follow the above methods (make a patty, top with cheese, plate the other patty on top) but, rather than pinching the edges to make a seal, simply smash the patties up into another large meatball and then work that ball into a larger patty. You’ll create one unified patty and the cheese will (90% of the time) still be sealed away in the center. Either method works well, it’s all based on what you feel comfortable doing.

Once you feel that your cheese is safely sealed away, place a large (non stick) skillet on medium high heat and add the patties. Cook, undisturbed for 6 minutes before flipping the patties and cooking for an additional 6 minutes. Once the patties are no longer pink and the juices are clear, you’re ready to serve. Top the patties with lettuce, jalapeños (for the adventurous) avocados or any other burger topping you desire and enjoy!

The Result:

The only drawback to a turkey burger when compared to a traditional burger is that turkey meat has a tendency to be rather bland and uninspired, typically relying heavily on its toppings for flavor. This burger breaks that tradition by being simply alive with flavor.

The turkey itself is seasoned to a (surprisingly) spicy point – it’s not “holy cow that’s hot” but it certainly falls in the “wow, taste that spice” category. That’s not something you usually associate with turkey and is a nice surprise with this burger. The melted pepper jack cheese is the true star of this burger, however. It adds a great level of moisture to the burger (that the lean nature of turkey makes it lack) as well as a great deal of flavor to the final dish.

In about 15 to 20 minutes you can have a delicious, healthy meal on the table for you or anyone to enjoy. On week’s like they one we’re currently having, recipes like these are perfect to try at home.

That’s all we have for you this week. We’re back on Monday with another edition of Around the Culinary World and another batch of healthy and fun to make recipes. Until then, enjoy the nice weather.

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