Let's Talk Turkey (Burgers)
Now that the holidays have come and gone, and we've all enjoyed wayyy too much food (just me?), I think turkey can go back to being an afterthought. Lets face it, most people throughout the first 10 months of the year only consume turkey in the form of flavorless ground meat and if I learned anything from spending time with my soon-to-be 2 year old nephew Jaxson over the holiday season, its that ground turkey is nasty and does not belong in your mouth! On the plate, on the floor, on the table, or in a napkin, but not in your mouth!
So it might come as a surprise that with getting a better handle on my food budget and trying to get my #gains back on track for my pending nuptials, I unfortunately made the decision to pick up ground turkey during my last trip to the grocery store. I mean its cheap and fairly good-for-you, so why not, right? When I got home and realized what I had done, I started brainstorming what I could make with this sad excuse for protein.
Burgers! I love burgers! Real burgers, cooked medium, with bacon and cheddar, extra pickles.... *Homer Simpson drool* But turkey burgers are a whole other thing. They never turn out that way. They're always dry, because they can't be cooked rare or medium (poultry) and they usually taste like cardboard sprinkled with whatever you used to season them. Why does it have to be this way!?! Determined to make a turkey burger I'd actually want to eat, I went to my favorite resource online, The Food Lab series (http://www.seriouseats.com/the-food-lab) to get some tips for improving my outcome and I found some interesting information which led to this experiment. The brilliant food scientist chef, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, recommended adding some cooked eggplant and umami flavors to boost the meaty flavor and texture that ground turkey lacks. He used fish sauce, anchovies and some other non-staple ingredients that I don't have in my kitchen to achieve the umami, but I was able to improvise. A few months ago, I actually bought some "umami powder" from Kalustyans (https://foodsofnations.com/) that I had yet to try. In the fridge I also had some olives and roasted red peppers I figured could be easily blended into a paste in lieu of eggplant. I added some plain breadcrumbs for binding as well and I was ready to go.
All said and done, the burger turned out moist, with meaty texture from the red pepper and olive puree and the seasoning was pretty interesting also. The umami powder added flavor to the turkey without making it taste like garlic salt and smoked paprika (or whatever else I would have used to season the meat). I probably wouldn't go through the trouble to make this again, but if you have any reason why you prefer ground turkey burgers to beef burgers, I would recommend giving this a try.
There's not really a recipe, just combine the ingredients, and cook your burger the way you normally would (make sure your burger is cooked through - I used a thermometer to make sure it was around 160 degrees). *A tip for forming the burger patties: spray some Pam spray on your hands to keep the ground meat mixture from sticking as you handle it*
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp umami powder
4-6 oz roasted red peppers and pitted green olives, blended into a smooth paste
1/3 cup of breadcrumbs