You may remember when The Burger Lab attempted, skeptically, to create a turkey burger that didn't suck last year. And there was success! (Thanks to the wonders of umami.) This week, our Grilling man Josh Bousel also tried his hand at an un-sucky turkey burger... —The Mgmt.
Turkey burgers, why?
That's the question I always ask myself when someone rolls up to a cookout with a whole mess of them. All too often turkey burgers end up being dry, tasteless patties that pale in comparison to their beef counterpart. So if you're an all-purpose meat eater, why bother?
While pondering the question further, I came to a clear and concise answer that got my mind whirling with the excitement of possibilities—they're a blank slate just waiting to take on any flavor.
Turkey itself is somewhat tasteless, so it takes on flavors introduced to it quite well, like when flavor brining a Thanksgiving bird. Solving the taste portion in this recipe by adding a slew of Asian ingredients in with the meat, there was still the pesky dryness—a result of using a lean meat containing less than 20% fat.
A good solution would be to grind your own turkey thighs, possibly with the skins still on, to get the fat content to around the 20% mark that keeps the meat moist while cooking. However, on the day I went shopping, no thighs were available, but a 85% lean ground turkey was, so I went with that, adding some breadcrumbs to help retain moisture from the added liquids and act as a binder.
All mixed together into what felt like one giant meatball, I formed patties, grilled them until cooked through, then placed them on a bun with some Bibb lettuce, tomato, and Sriracha mayo. The whole thing was like taking a journey deep into flavor country. Everything mixed with the burgers was coming through, and they remained incredibly juicy. In the end, it changed my question from "Why turkey burger?" to "What burger's next!"
- For the mayo:
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or make your own!)
- For the burgers:
- 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey, 85% lean
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Bibb lettuce
- 1 tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Hamburger buns
- Type of fire: direct
- Grill heat: medium-high
To make the Sriracha mayo, mix together the mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.
Using your hands, mix together all of the ingredients for the burgers in a large bowl until just fully incorporated. Scoop out about 1/3 lb of the mixture and form into a patty. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture until all used.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill the burgers until well browned on both sides and an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the middle of the burger, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.
While the burgers are grilling, place the buns cut side down on the grill and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and spread some Sriracha mayo on each side of the buns. Place the finished burgers on the buns, top with Bibb lettuce and tomato slices, and serve.