Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Turkey Burgers

This was one of those “Oh crap, it’s 4pm, and I have nothing planned for dinner – what’s in the fridge and what can I make with it??” ideas, and my husband and I both loved it. Normally, I don’t really enjoy turkey burgers, as they tend to be dry and kind of tasteless. But, I’ve discovered that by using a turkey with a little more fat (93/7, as opposed to the usual 99% fat free ground turkey breast), and adding lots of delicious seasonings to the burgers themselves, they’re actually REALLY good. Of course, a pile of tasty toppings doesn’t hurt, either!

Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Turkey Burgers

Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Turkey Burgers
serves 4

1 lb ground turkey (93% lean, 7% fat)
1 small shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 t worcestershire
2 t dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp smoked salt (or kosher salt)
4 slices muenster cheese
Sweet barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp, and cut in half
one large, sweet onion, cut into thin half-moons
olive oil
4 hamburger buns or English muffins

1.) Start by heating a skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the hot pan, and then add your onions and a large pinch of kosher salt. Cook the onions, tossing frequently, until the edges are nice and brown, and the onions have softened. Lower your heat to low, and continue to stir the onions every couple minutes (as your burgers cook), until they are a deep brown.

2.) While the onions are cooking, make your burgers. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, shallot, garlic, worcestershire, dijon, black pepper, and smoked salt, using your hands to gently mix all the ingredients. Form into 4 thin, equal-sized patties, and set aside.

3.) Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly spray with olive oil, and add your burgers to the pan, making sure they’re not too crowded. Cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, until the bottoms are golden brown, and release from the pan easily.

4.) Once you’ve flipped the burgers, let them cook for another 3 minutes; then, add some barbecue sauce to the top of each burger, and top with a slice of cheese. Use a piece of foil to loosely tent the pan, and let the burgers cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is nice and melted, and the burgers are cooked through.

5.) Spread some barbecue sauce on the bottom of each of your hamburger buns or English muffins (we used English muffins because that was what we had on hand, and we didn’t want to go to the store – I actually really liked themr, as they held up well to all the messiness of these burgers, without getting soggy). Top with a burger, a pile of caramelized onions, and 1.5 strips of bacon.

Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Turkey Burgers

These burgers were definite winners. The turkey was moist and flavorful, and the sweet onions and barbecue sauce worked perfectly with the smoky, salty bacon. Of course, you could substitute ground beef for the ground turkey, if you’d prefer… either way, these burgers would be great for a crowd, or just as a quick, weeknight meal!

Can you believe I forgot to sign off on my last post??


Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburgers on Pretzel Rolls

A few weeks ago, I was doing some grocery shopping, and I came across some freshly baked pretzel rolls in the bakery. They looked and smelled DELICIOUS, so I brought them home with me, with the plan to make some kind of burger using them. Somehow, the next couple days got away from me, before I had a chance to dream up/cook up my burgers, so I froze them to use later, once I’d had time to come up with something truly delicious. (Quick tip: if you like having fresh bread to eat with your meals, but hate stopping at the grocery store all the time to buy it, just buy a bunch and freeze it! I buy the 8-packs of ciabatta rolls at Sam’s Club, wrap them each individually in Glad Press N Seal wrap, and then put them all into a freezer bag. When we want some bread with our meal – or when I want to make meatball subs, or mini pizzas – I take out as many as I need, unwrap them, and place them into the cold oven. I set the oven to 350°, and by the time it has reached temperature, the bread is nicely thawed and warm!)

Anyways, yesterday was The Day. I had had some time to think about these burgers, and I knew I wanted to dress them up with classic soft pretzel toppings – gooey, melty cheese, and jalapeños. I mean, the only other standard soft pretzel topping I could come up with was mustard… and a hamburger with mustard is not exactly groundbreaking, you know? The more I brainstormed about the cheese (Velveeta, clearly) and jalapeños (fresh AND pickled), the more I wanted to add bacon… not exactly a standard soft pretzel topping, but incredibly delicious. Not to mention, I don’t eat burgers all that often – so when I do, I really want A BURGER. Something that’s messy and cheesy and piled high with delicious things that will need to be counteracted with several days of nothing but fruits and vegetables. And so, bacon made the list.

Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburgers on Pretzel Rolls
serves 4

1lb ground beef
1 large, fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
Vegetable oil
4 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into thick slices*
pickled jalapeños
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
4 pretzel rolls, split and toasted

*I realize some people think Velveeta is gross. I do not understand those people, but I know that they exist. If you want to use some other kind of cheese, feel free to do so – but some situations in life just call for the superior meltability and gooey-ness of Velveeta, and I think this is one of them. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s not like we’re making health food, here.

1.) In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the ground beef, minced fresh jalapeño, minced garlic, onion powder, kosher salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and worchestershire, using your hands. Only mix until everything is just combined, so you don’t end up with tough burgers!

2.) Form the beef mixture into 4 equal patties. Heat a large, cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to it, swirling to coat the pan. When the pan is nice and hot, add the burgers to the pan.

3.) Let the patties cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, and then flip them. Let them cook another 3 minutes or so, and then top them with the cheese. Loosely tent some foil over the pan for the last 2 minutes of cooking, so the cheese will fully melt.

4.) When the burgers are cooked and the cheese is melted, it’s assembly time! Place the burger onto the bottom of the bun, then top with pickled jalapeños, two slices of bacon per burger, and the top of the bun. Be forewarned, you may need a (long) toothpick or skewer to hold these together!

Oh MAN, were these burgers good. Totally over the top, but insanely tasty. I loved the little bits of fresh jalapeño in the burger itself – they added just the right amount of freshness and spice. Obviously, the melty cheese, crispy, smoky bacon, and the vinegary pickled jalapeños were awesome together; like a perfect marriage between a bacon cheeseburger, and a fully loaded soft pretzel. These burgers would still be awesome on a regular bun – but if you can find pretzel rolls (I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s recently), their crisp, slightly salty exterior is really a perfect complement to these burgers. For the record, my husband declared these to be “the second best burger” I’ve ever made (edged out just slightly by the fig-glazed burgers with red onion jam)… But if you ask me, these take the #1 spot, by a hair!

And now, I think I need a 3-day detox,

Fig-Glazed Burgers with Red Onion Jam

As you may have noticed, I am not a HUGE red meat-eater. I’m actually not a huge meat-eater in general – but red meat tastes particularly… meaty, to me, so I don’t use it terribly often (much to Crist’s dismay. She believes I am starving my husband, one meatless meal at a time. He would beg to differ). Ever since I was little, the flavor of meat itself just doesn’t appeal to me; because of this, I prefer my meat to be just a component of a dish, as opposed to the star. The burger I am about to show you is sort of perfect for everyone – for those of you who are hardcore carnivores, there is plenty of hearty beef flavor, and for those of us who prefer to surround our meat with other flavors, it fits that bill as well.

This burger has been a huge hit with everyone who has ever tried it. It has a great balance of sweetness (from the fig jam, and the sweet onions), and sharp acidity (from the vinegar in the jam), and a generous helping of gooey, melted cheese. I would like another one of these burgers right now, as a matter of fact.

I know that everyone has their preferred way to make burgers – some people think a 1/4lb burger is GIGANTIC, and others think that unless it’s 1/2lb or more, it’s merely an appetizer. This recipe will make one pound of meat (which, for me, makes three burgers – one that is about 1/4lb, for myself, and two that are a bit more than 1/3lb each, for my husband… one for dinner, one for lunch the next day). Feel free to make however many burgers you feel is appropriate out of one pound of meat.

Fig-Glazed Burgers with Red Onion Jam
(this recipe is heavily modified from one I found online a few years ago – but I was not smart enough to save the source. If you have any idea, let me know!)
Makes 2-4 burgers, depending on size

1 pound ground sirloin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small shallot, minced
2 tsp worcestershire
1 T dijon mustard
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 T fig jam per burger
1 oz monterey jack cheese per burger*
Red onion jam (see below)
Hamburger buns of choice
*I would suggest buying a block of monterey jack cheese, and cutting it into slices yourself (rather than buying shredded cheese, or something similar)

For the jam:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
3 T brown sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar
large pinch of kosher salt

1.) Take your ground beef out of the fridge; letting it sit for a bit at room temperature will take the chill off, and result in a more tender burger. Start making your jam. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add your olive oil to it. When the pan and oil are heated up, add the onions, and toss them until they’re all coated in the oil. Add the pinch of salt, and mix it in.

2.) Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes, until they are translucent (you don’t really want them to brown, so if they are browning too much at the edges, lower the heat on your pan). Add the brown sugar and vinegar, and stir to combine everything. Let the mixture continue to cook, stirring frequently, until it is no longer watery, and has cooked down to a thick, jam-like consistency (this should only take 5-10 minutes). Set the jam aside.

About halfway there!

3.) Place your ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add your garlic, shallot, worcestershire, dijon, salt, and pepper, and gently combine all the ingredients with the beef with your hands. When you are working with something like ground beef, be sure to work quickly and gently – you don’t want to SQUEEZE the meat, or beat the crap out of it. You just want to make sure that all the other ingredients are well-distributed, without overworking the meat and making it tough.

4.) Once the burger mixture is ready, separate it into as many burgers as you’d like, and form round patties about 1/2″ thick. Place them on a plate, to the side.

5.) Heat a grill pan (or your grill) over medium heat. Brush the pan (or grill) with a bit of olive oil, to keep the burgers from sticking. Once the pan is good and hot, place your burgers into it.

6.) If you like your burgers medium, cook them for about 3 minutes on the first side (4 minutes for medium well, 5 minutes for well-done). When you are ready to flip them, they should release from the pan pretty easily – if they are sticking a bit, let them sit a few more seconds before trying to flip again.

7.) Once you’ve flipped your burgers, spread 1 T of fig jam on top of each burger. Place your sliced cheese on top of the burgers, and loosely tent a piece of foil (shiny side down) over your pan. If you are unfamiliar with the foil tent method, it’s pretty simple – when you are cooking in an open pan, you’re losing a lot of heat off the surface of the pan/food. By loosely covering the pan with a piece of foil, the heat is deflected back down onto the food – which is mighty handy when you’re trying to do something like melt cheese on top of a burger (which will take 10 times longer without the foil tent – thereby ensuring that your burgers are overcooked to death).

8.) Continue cooking your burgers under the foil tent until they’re done to your liking (about 3-4 minutes more for medium). Remove them to a plate, place your foil tent loosely over them, and let them rest for a few minutes while you prep your buns.

9.) Lightly butter (or mist with olive oil) the insides of your buns, and put them cut side down into your grill pan for a minute – just until they toast up nicely.

10.) Time to build your burgers! Lay the bottom halves of your buns out, top them with burgers, top the burgers with a generous helping of your red onion jam, and top the jam with your top buns. Dig in!

I like to serve these burgers with some spicy sweet potato fries (I was going to also make a side salad the last time I made these, but… I got lazy, okay??) – the spice plays off the sweetness of the fig jam and onion jam really well. I honestly could eat these burgers 3 days a week – and as someone who is not much of a red meat eater, that is saying a lot. These would be fantastic as sliders, for a party – or made into fig-glazed meatballs, topped with some melted cheese and red onion jam, on a toothpick!

People are going to ask for this recipe once they’ve tried it, so maybe print some copies off in advance,