Friday, March 12, 2010

Turkey Burgers with Pepper Jack Cheese & Simple Avocado Spread

There is definitely something to be said for a juicy, cheesy, beef burger loaded with the works. Been there...done that. They ARE good and for many years we did enjoy them. But tastes and eating habits ebb and flow, and changes are often made along the way. One change we made several years ago was to eliminate red meat from our diets. Giving up beef, however, did not mean giving up burgers. As a result we've tried a myriad of replacements... some we've loved, some we've liked, and some were just plain terrible.

A great meaty burger needs to have the texture and feel of a true burger. It needs to be juicy and flavorful. It needs to work with various condiments needs to hold up well to being smushed inside a bun.

Ground turkey makes a nice beef replacement when it comes to all the physical features of a burger but it requires some flavor enhancements to truly compete. It's a lean meat so it just doesn't have the same flavor as ground beef...even lean beef. Yet it's also a meat that will beautifully assume whatever flavors you want to incorporate. In addition to adding some flavor, you need to "beef up" the moisture content in ground turkey, or you'll end up with a very dry burger. And...using a combination of lean ground turkey breast and lean ground dark turkey meat will not only help you avoid the "blandness" that turkey can have but will also up its flavor factor.

In this particular burger, there's a good dose of fresh green and red bell peppers, garlic powder, coriander, onion, salt, and pepper. Then it's topped with pepper jack cheese which gives you a spicy, gooey, little zip that is nicely complemented by a spread of fresh avocado, sliced tomato, red onion, and hearty romaine leaves.

While I make no effort to convert beef burger lovers, I do love to serve these to those I know and far... they haven't failed to deliver.

Turkey Burgers with Pepper Jack Cheese & Simple Avocado Spread served on Whole Wheat Buns
serves 4

1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1/2 pound lean ground dark turkey meat
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
additional salt and pepper, to season patties
4-6 slices pepper jack cheese

4-8 slices tomato
4-8 leaves romaine lettuce
1 avocado, mashed
splash fresh lemon juice
4 whole wheat buns

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey mustard

1. Combine first 11 ingredients, turkey through black pepper, in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to incorporate all ingredients. If it's still too mushy, or won't hold together, add a bit more bread crumbs. Divide mixture into four parts and form four burger patties.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add patties. Lightly season patties with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, then flip. Let patties cook about 2 minutes before adding sliced cheese. Cook for another 3 minutes, until done. If cheese needs more time to melt, remove skillet from heat and cover.

3. Light toast buns in oven. In a small bowl, mash avocado and add a splash of fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside and remove buns from oven.

4. In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise and honey mustard.

5. Spread buns with honey mustard/mayo. Place patties on bottom buns and top each with a dollop of avocado spread, a slice or two of fresh tomato, a couple slices of red onion, and a leaf or two of romaine. Sandwich with top bun.

Other flavor enhancers: chopped green chiles, fresh minced jalapeƱo pepper, worchestershire sauce or soy sauce (instead of salt), freshly chopped cilantro or italian parsley, salsa.

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