Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Turkey Sliders Stuffed with Herbed Chévre, Sautéed Shitake Mushrooms, and Fresh Spinach

These little burgers were created in an attempt to have an equal opportunity slider experience.

Sliders seem to be the new "it" food on happy hour menus...but we rarely see non-beef options. After much sidelined witnessing of oohs and aahs as friends enjoyed these mini morsels, we did finally come across some turkey sliders at a favorite restaurant that specializes in serving small plates (miniature portions of mac 'n cheese, pastas, etc.) but, in all honesty, they were a little boring. The turkey was tasty but not enough to quell thoughts that it needed a bit more "umf" to elicit any of those oohs and aahs we had so craved to partake in. Perhaps some toppings were in order...something to give them some flavor interest? However, when you're dealing with a little mini burger, keeping those toppings atop your burger is easier said than done. Beyond the structural limitations, you simply aren't working with solid materials here. Burgers have slippery-slidey toppings. And, given the limited real estate of a slider, toppings are bound to topple before you even take your first bite.

While you can certainly incorporate toppings into your meat, mixing it all together, you have to think about the consistency of these ingredients. Cheese is great when melted but you don't really want it oozing out of your burgers before you even take them out of the pan.

Stuffing your sliders gives you all the greatness of toppings, without the mess or waste (or structural engineering know-how). And like all great burgers, there are myriad of toppings (ahem...stuffings) that would work in these sliders. I happened to have herbed chévre in my fridge so I built the balance of the stuffing around this cheese. Whatever cheese you use, just remember that you want to select and prep it to best ensure that it melts. Soft cheeses can be sliced or cubed, harder cheeses are best shredded.

In short, these little sliders rightly earn their oohs and aahs. They are packed with much so that once inside a great little bun (mini wheat dinner rolls in this case), you are good to go. No spreads or sauces necessary...secret or otherwise.

Turkey Sliders Stuffed with Herbed Chévre, Sautéed Shitake Mushrooms, and Fresh Spinach
makes 6 sliders (approx. 2 to 3 ounces each)

for stuffing:
1/3 pound shitake mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped fresh spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
4 to 5 ounces herb-flavored chévre cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices

for turkey patties:
3/4 pound ground white turkey breast
1/4 pound ground dark turkey meat
1 egg
3/4 cup dried Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
2 large roasted red peppers, diced (whatever jarred variety preferred)
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive olive

6 whole wheat mini dinner rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, heat butter and tablespoon olive oil together over medium-high heat, until butter melts. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked through and lightly golden.

Remove mushrooms from heat and add in chopped spinach. Toss lightly to mix spinach with mushrooms. (Spinach will wilt slightly.) Turn mixture out into a bowl and set aside. Keep same skillet to use for cooking patties.

In a large bowl, mix turkey meat with egg, bread crumbs, roasted red peppers, oregano, salt, and pepper.

When mixture is well blended, roughly divide patty mix in half as you'll use one half of mixture for making the bottom of your patties, the other half for the tops. (Note: This is my little trick to getting a perfectly proportioned patty. I find that when I make a larger patty that wraps up and around the stuffing, I get a top-heavy meat portion with all the great stuffing crammed down at the base. Use whatever method works for you.)

Take a small portion of the turkey mixture and form a thin patty, about 3 inches in diameter. You'll make six of these, using about 1 to 2 ounces for each. Top each patty with a slice of chévre and a tablespoon or so of the mushroom-spinach mixture.

Using the second half of your turkey mixture, make another six thin patties to top each base. Using your fingers, pinch the sides of each patty to seal in your stuffing.

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in the same skillet you used for your mushrooms. Pat and shape each patty a bit before placing in skillet, to ensure they are well sealed and shaped for the buns you are using.

Cook patties over medium-high heat for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, until golden on one side. Flip patties and continue cooking for another 3 to 5 minutes. (I even rolled these on their sides for a bit to ensure they'd get browned all around...they are plump!)

While sliders finish up cooking, place your rolls in heated oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Slice rolls in half. Place one slider within each roll...and enjoy!

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