~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~
I raised three boys. When I was making cheeseburgers, chili, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, no one had to be called to the table twice. On those nights, our dinner conversation was downright pleasant too. It was smooth sailing for lasagna, stuffed peppers, meatloaf and sloppy Joe's too. You could say, ground beef brings out the table manners in boys growing up in America. From my perspective, ground beef made me happy for a lot of years too -- it was budget friendly, and, meals made from it were relatively quick and easy to prepare as well.
About the time my boys were graduating from high school, ground turkey was being marketed as a healthy alternative to ground beef -- after all, if the advertisement says it, it must be true. Talk about rocking my boat. After a trial or two, my young men protested and prohibited the use of it in their food. My feelings weren't hurt. I was 100% in agreement. Turkey had won no ones heart in my house.
Pork is the other white meat, but, turkey is not the other ground beef!
I don't think ground turkey ever stood a chance of winning the hearts of American eaters. While pork has become the other white meat, turkey is not the other ground beef. I don't understand how anyone, anywhere could have ever expected it to be. From a taste and texture standpoint, when compared apples-to-apples with ground beef, no one with a palate could possibly make it their first choice. From a marketing perspective, "they" got it all wrong. To learn more, click on the Related Article link below to ~ Know the Pros & 'Cons' of Ground Turkey vs Beef ~.
Turkey isn't meat -- it's poultry -- treat and appreciate it as such!
That said, I like the taste of farm-raised turkey -- I like it a lot. It's got a bolder flavor than chicken, without the gamey taste of wild turkey. I adore a traditionally roasted turkey, am a connoisseur of the classic turkey club sandwich, love a turkey sub too, and, it's awesome in a chef's salad. Once my men were on-their-own, I slowly began to rethink ground turkey -- this time, as a "poultry product" with its own flavor profile, not as a second-class substitution for beef. With its appealing rosy-pink color and neutral taste, in some culinary applications, it occurred to me it could be better than beef. Over the years, I've come up with a few recipes that I can honestly tell you, if you substitute ground beef for ground turkey, you will ruin the dish. Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble!
My Thai turkey burgers are one example -- the mild-flavored ground turkey allows all of the fresh, bold Thai flavors to shine through. Ground beef would be all wrong in this recipe. This was the first ground turkey recipe I developed in my quest to prove that ground poultry has a place in my kitchen. While this is not a classic Thai recipe (but it easily could be), it is a wonderful way to introduce the spot-on taste of Thailand to folks who have never experienced it!
2 pounds ground turkey (90/10)
1 1/2 cups thinly-sliced green onions (white and light green part)
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 extra-large egg
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon Thai seasoning soy
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce, more or less, to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
6 sesame-seeded burger rolls
6 fresh pineapple slices, hand-trimmed from 1 fresh pineapple then grilled on both sides
Thai sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy), for dipping or drizzling (Note: When you taste this sweet, slightly-spicy sauce, your refrigerator will never be without a bottle -- we call it "the ketchup of Thailand"!)
Note: I experimented with adding minced, fresh Thai chile peppers and minced, fresh ginger in place of the Sriracha sauce and ground ginger. The end result was less than desirable in that the heat and spice were not properly cooked or evenly distributed throughout the burgers after grilling. The Sriracha and ground ginger work perfectly!
Note: The mixture will resemble the soft "sticky" consistency of a meatloaf mixture rather than a typical burger concoction. This is intentional. Because ground turkey is naturally dry when it is cooked, extra moisture must be added to the poultry mixture at the outset.
~ Step 3. Line a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan with parchment paper. Using a kitchen scale as a measure, divide the meat mixture into 6, 6-ounce portions, form the portions into 3 1/2"-round x 3/4"-thick discs and place them side-by-side on the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pan of burgers in the freezer for 50-60 minutes, no longer than that.
Note: Partially freezing the burgers is going to make them very easy to handle when it comes time to put them on the hot grill grids. Do not freeze the burgers completely. You want them to be just firm enough to easily lift off the parchment while maintaining their shape.
~ Step 4. Preheat the grill to medium. Place the burgers, side-by-side, either over indirect heat or on the upper rack of grill (if you have one). Close the lid and allow the burgers to cook 13-15 minutes.
Caution: It's not safe to eat a medium-rare turkey burger!
~ Step 5. After 13-15 minutes, open the grill lid. Using a long-handled grilling spatula, flip the burgers over. They will have firmed up and be golden brown on the first side.
~ Step 7. During this time, grill the pineapple slices until light golden grid marks appear on their surface, about 1-2 minutes per side. If you want lightly-toasted rolls for your burgers, toast them along with or just after the pineapple slices. This will take 1-2 more minutes.
Assemble and serve immediately with Thai sweet chili sauce...
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; kitchen scale (optional); gas grill; long-handled grilling spatula; instant-read meat thermometer (optional but recommended); aluminum foil
Cook's Note: If it's a traditional hamburger with a Southwestern theme you're craving, click into Categories 2, 10, 13, 17, 19, 20 to get my recipe for ~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~. In this flavor-packed burger, the cheddar cheese gets mixed into the meat mixture rather than melted on top of it!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)