A good burger party should include an option for friends who don’t eat red meat, but aren’t vegetarian. Turkey burgers are always the go to, but they usually don’t get the love that the beef burgers do. People will go to great lengths to ensure their Backyard Burger Daddy status by serving up some killer burgers like the burgers presented at the Bull Burger Battles. The T-Burger (that’s right, T-Burger) is usually ends up a grayish piece of bland cardboard on a bun. The key? Four words: weigh, loose, spice, and hot.
Weigh out the portions. Because turkey burgers can dry out pretty quickly, I usually won’t make them any bigger than a 6-ounce patty, unless that’s all that I am grilling. Because they are all the same size, you will also have a better feel for when they are done. The bigger and thicker they are, the more guessing, prodding and poking you have to do to tell if they are done. I never use just turkey breast unless I am grinding my own and I can add fat (bacon) to the mince. I generally use dark meat only or 50/50 as the leanest.
Keep It Loose: packing down and compacting the patties does not allow for a juicy burger. First, the meat will get over-worked and tough. Also, the denser the patty, the longer it will take to cook and the proteins will just squeeze all the juices out. Shape the patties to a size slightly larger than the buns that you’re using. Press a dimple or thumbprint into the center of the patty to keep them from pulling to the center and back into a ball. If you are not going to cook them after you shape them, then keep them cold in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
Spice It Up: let’s face it, turkey is not the most flavorful meat out there; it needs some added flavor. If you are grinding your own, work it out with salt and pepper. If you’re like 99% of people, someone else ground it. Since there is no other spicing in the mince, season the burgers liberally. If you do season the mince, then don’t go crazy. Use your favorite rub, like Bull’s Cajun Rub, or the one that I have included below. In any event, don’t season the burgers until you are about ready to grill. The salt in the spice rub will start to pull the moisture out of the burger if they sit too long.
Cook ’em Hot and Fast: because these burgers are simple and straight forward, we want to get them on and cooked quickly. Assuming that you are also cooking beef burgers, we need to use high heat. Place the cold seasoned burgers over direct high heat and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side; put them down, get a good sear, flip and finish. They are done when they hit 165°F or are no longer pink in the center. Remove and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving. Even burgers need to repose and pull it back together.
If you want to add some cheese to the burgers, do it in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy!
Tasty Turkey Burger Rub
(also great on pork, chicken, and shell fish)
makes about 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons each: onions powder, garlic powder, and paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon each: dried thyme, sage, and oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (Coleman’s)
Thoroughly combine all ingredients. When adding the dried herbs, rub them together in the palm of your hands to crush finer and release the oils for more flavor. Will keep for 3 to 4 months in an airtight container.
Cheers and Happy grilling!