Turkey burgers are a great alternative to beef burgers. They’re lower in fat, lower in calories, and are more versatile… as this recipe from Harris Teeter Corporate Executive Chef Phil Anderson for Mediterranean turkey burgers indicates!
What to put into it
Begin with ground turkey—enough for as many people as will be enjoying them. This is where you’re going to give the burgers their Mediterranean flavoring. Put the turkey in a mixing bowl and add 3 or 4 T. of chopped Kalamata olives, ½ c. diced onions, 1 t. garlic and some fresh basil.
Anderson notes that many other chefs don’t believe in tearing fresh basil apart for grilling because it can change color and turn black. He feels that the look is irrelevant: the basil will be inside the turkey patty and is there for flavor, not as a garnish.
Add 1/3 C. of Parmesan cheese (Anderson isn’t much bothered by the quality of the cheese used, so whatever works for you is fine) and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all together and shape them into patties.
Here’s an important step: oil the patties all over with a nice olive oil. This will mean that you won’t need to oil the grill and it will keep the burgers moist. This is extremely important, as turkey burgers dry out faster and more easily than do beef burgers, and there’s nothing Mediterranean about a dried-out burger!
How to grill
It’s essential that you preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking: it has to reach the right temperature (some grill masters argue that this is the most important aspect of grilling) to make sure it reaches the right temperature and that any bacteria gets eliminated. Your grill should be 450°F. (check the temperature on the grill, not in the cover where most thermometers are). A properly heated grill will sear your food on contact while keeping the insides moist and helping prevent sticking. Many people believe that searing seals in juices; this actually isn’t true, but it does caramelize and that makes for an excellent flavor.
So now it’s time to put your burgers on the grill. Anderson says to always use a spatula when grilling meats, and ideally each patty should only be flipped once; they should stay on the grill for two to three minutes each. On the first side you’ll want to leave them a little longer and move them so that you get some diamond burns on the meat—this is more important with turkey than with beef, as it’s more visible. This is the side that you’ll serve facing up.
The protein inside the burgers relaxes and allows them to be flipped without sticking to the grill.
Anderson has a special bit of advice: When the burger is done, cover it and leave it sitting for five minutes. This is what really releases the flavors and makes it juicy. Add whatever condiments you like: ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, mustard; he suggests lettuce and tomato slices and a Kaiser roll or baguette.
But perhaps a more Mediterranean accompaniment might be a little pesto, hummus, or garlic spread. Add cucumbers and some crumbled feta cheese on the side if you wish. Whatever you decide to use, you’re sure to love these special turkey burgers!