Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hamburger Hybrid

When I went to high school in the early nineties, it was enormously on trend to be vegetarian.  Always one for half-measures, I did not join my friends in this, but went for the far more conservative "no red meat" stance.  Of course, when I went away to college, land of the inedible food, this was something of a liability.  For the first few months of school I subsisted entirely on a diet of hot buttered rice and apple jacks.  The food offerings of the few dining halls that served Freshman were as far from my mother's gourmet kitchen as you could possibly conceive.  At one point a group of boys in my dorm even got me a pizza from the outside because they were so concerned I might starve.  Slowly, slowly I began to introduce more foods:  chicken nuggets from the kosher kitchen downstairs, baked ziti from the mostly vegetarian cafe, salads from (urban legend has it) the longest salad bar in the state, and my dear dear friend the grilled cheese on white bread.  But midway through freshman year there was an exciting announcement! We were getting turkey burgers!  I cannot even begin to explain to you how revolutionary this was.  They were these little brown lumps on soft soft buns and you would have to wait to get a nice fresh one that a) didn't have time to get condensation on the plate, because you don't want a soggy bun and b) came with melted cheese. With that mouth-watering description I'm sure you'll have a hard time understanding why, during my sophomore year, I started eating red meat again.  As bleak as Freshman food options may have been, those available to the rest of the school were bountiful.  My friends and I favored a place that sold chicken wings (entirely too messy for any college girl to risk eating in public), grilled chicken sandwiches and beautiful, juicy burgers.  I remember staring at the menu full of pathos and longing when a friend said "Seriously, just GET one."  I was nothing if not a pushover, so I ordered a bacon cheese burger.  It quickly became a staple of my sophomore year diet.  These days I don't get much red meat anymore, but there's no reason for my turkey burgers to be sad specimens like the ones offered by my freshman dining hall.  Now they're juicy, flavorful and topped with bacon and cheddar.  I kept the nice soft roll though.  It is just a turkey burger after all.


1 lb ground turkey
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t salt
more than 1 t black pepper
2 t ketchup
2 T shredded onion
1 strip of (turkey) bacon per burger
cheddar cheese (or whatever you like!)

In a non-stick pan, melt a tablespoon of butter.  Cook the bacon until crispy.  I used medium-high heat and did 3 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on the other side.  Then set aside the bacon.  Ideally, I'd do the burgers in a cast iron pan, but mine was dirty, so I used the non-stick but I didn't wipe out the bacon grease.  Because the burgers are tastier that way.

So you need to mix up the burger mixture.  Turkey burgers require extra things in order to be tasty, so don't skip the add ins.  Add the Worcesterhire, the salt, the pepper (be generous, especially if you like pepper), the ketchup and the shredded onion.  You should shred the onion on a regular grater. A microplane results in just mush. Shredding is better than chopping because it adds flavor and moisture with no weird chunks in the burgers.  Gently mix the meat, don't handle too much.  Form into 4 patties. Heat the pan to medium high and cook for 4 minutes on the first side.  Flip the burgers and cook for 2 minutes on the second side.  Then top with the cheese and cover (I used a standard metal bowl - the steaming is perfect) so that the cheese melts.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve on toasted buns.

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