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I've Finally Hacked Turkey Burgers

Jim Leff Jun 26, 2009 04:10 PM

I've been trying to make turkey burgers, with dismal results. Dry and bland. The ground meat looks like it has promise, but there's no "there" there. But I've persevered, and made KILLER ones today.

Seasoning (all from Penzeys):

Smoked Spanish Paprika
Ginger Powder (about twice what you'd imagine putting in)
Black pepper
A few squirts of soy sauce (I use Filipino Toyomansi, which contains calamansi - i.e. preseved lemon...it's my big secret ingredient in lots of dishes)


Sort of a half-assed hybrid of a fry and a braise in a saute pan. I keep at least some water in the pan (with a drizzle of olive oil) for most of the cooking time, and keep covering/uncovering at various intervals. Medium heat. At the end, I try to have water gone and pan uncovered just to dry things a BIT.

An important part is extreme neurotic paranoid attention to removing from heat at the MOMENT pinkness is gone.

  1. c oliver Jun 26, 2009 04:25 PM

    Sounds great! You might want to look at this also:


    The last time I made with with my own ground turkey. Froze them in 6 oz. patties and they were great.

    4 Replies
    1. re: c oliver
      kattyeyes Jun 26, 2009 05:03 PM

      These are fantastic--I made them shortly after you first posted about them.

      1. re: c oliver
        BeefeaterRocks Jun 27, 2009 03:08 PM

        A third vote for the Mar-A Lago, best turkey burger I've had. I didn't have the ingredients for the pear chutney so I mixed Major Grey's chutney with mayo and chipotle pepper as a topping.

        1. re: BeefeaterRocks
          c oliver Jun 27, 2009 03:10 PM

          Oh, good idea. I didn't make that either so yours is a great substitute. Don't you think they grilled up just fine? Assuming you grilled them :)

          1. re: c oliver
            BeefeaterRocks Jun 27, 2009 03:39 PM

            I did grill, they were perfect.

      2. l
        lagatta Jun 26, 2009 05:14 PM

        Have you tried fresh ginger? That might add some moisture too.

        Often I put finely-minced mild onion in burgers made from very lean meats.

        29 Replies
        1. re: lagatta
          Caitlin McGrath Jun 26, 2009 05:34 PM

          I also find that finely minced onions or peppers help keep turkey burgers moist, and add flavor, as well. I do think that turkey benefits from potent spices and flavorings like ginger, cumin, Worcestershire, fish sauce, soy, chipotles en adobo, etc. (cumin, chipotle and chopped scallions is a good combo).

          And I agree with Jim that, whatever your cooking method, it's important to cook only until the pink is gone so as not to have dry results.

          1. re: lagatta
            goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2009 05:40 PM

            chopped mushrooms are another way to boost moisture and flavor (and fiber!)

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
              chowser Jun 26, 2009 06:33 PM

              Do you cook them first? What proportion to meat? Thanks. I have to give that a try. I've been using chopped cabbage in my meatloaf and am surprised at how moist it is and that you can't really tell. I'll bet it would work for burgers, too.

              1. re: chowser
                goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2009 07:16 PM

                i use the mushrooms in meatloaf too (actually i started using them in turkey meatloaf first, and realized they'd work in burgers as well!) i usually cook them (chop finely & saute with onions & garlic) & let cool slightly before adding to the meat, but i know a lot of people who just add them raw. i just think my method gives them more flavor & a better texture. i typically use about 8 ounces of mushrooms per pound of meat.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  chowser Jun 27, 2009 06:45 AM

                  I'll give it a try--thanks!

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    FoodFuser Jun 27, 2009 09:12 PM

                    Ground turkey is a great place to used dried shiitakes, to pack an extra "meaty" punch. I rehydrate them in hot miso broth, to add even more umami.

                    The hydrated shrooms are removed from the miso broth, squeezed dry into it, then chopped to fit in the small food processor, fine pulsing to a fine duxelle, along with celery and onions. The small food processor yields very tiny pieces, very useful here. (The miso is served as soup). The mirepoix is sauted to soften, since the texture of the meat must take precedence.

                    Now comes the question of "What is ground turkey?" Is it from a 1 pound tube, or a stryo pack ground onsite at the store, or the factory? Whatever the case, the differences between white and thigh meat are so distinct, and hard to pin down in commercial grinds that may also incorporate skin.

                    Turkeyburgers are a single argument for getting a home grinder, where you can control particle size (critical here) and the balance of white and dark. After a few grinds, with notes, you'll find your fave.

                    1. re: FoodFuser
                      Jim Leff Jun 27, 2009 09:46 PM

                      Great post. If I were as serious in my cooking as I am in my dining out, I'd be doing all that you suggest. Good to glean from you (and some of the other posters in this thread) how much room for expansion and ambition there is.

                      1. re: FoodFuser
                        c oliver Jun 28, 2009 04:37 AM

                        I ground my own from a whole, very small turkey that was on special after Christmas. I'm sure the addition of dark meat made all the difference in the world. And I grind everything coarsely. I'm pretty new to grinding my own meat but a total convert. (Won't even order a burger out any more.)

                        1. re: FoodFuser
                          chowser Jun 28, 2009 11:00 AM

                          Good point about "turkey" burgers. Often, skin and dark meat are used which ups the fat/sat fat content to higher than a regular hamburger. If you add healthy additions, like shitake mushrooms (good suggestion--I'll give it a try), you obviously end up w/ a healthier product and tasty, too.

                          1. re: chowser
                            c oliver Jun 28, 2009 11:21 AM

                            I wouldn't think that I COULD grind the skin even if I wanted to. I think it would wrap around the blade and clog the whole thing up. But I didn't fix them for the healthy aspect but for the flavor. Even with dark meat, I'd think it's still healthier than plenty of things I consume with glee :)

                            1. re: c oliver
                              chowser Jun 28, 2009 12:09 PM

                              I was talking about commercial producers. It can be eye opening to read the labels. People see turkey burgers and assume they're better for you but it pays to be careful. Well, it pays the most to grind your own :-) but barring that, if someone is choosing turkey burgers because they're lower in fat/healthier, he/she needs to look closely.

                              1. re: chowser
                                c oliver Jun 28, 2009 12:14 PM


                                If anyone has a KA stand mixer and doesn't spend the $50 for the meat grinder, I think they're missing the boat. so easy and SO good.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  FoodFuser Jun 28, 2009 12:28 PM

                                  A few more reasons to grind your own:


                                  And as you choose your parts: some helpful calorie/fat tips: Thighs are 3x or so the fat content of breast, but the flavor/texture is what lots of folks go for. It's a good dish to shoot high (pure white) and find how much, or little, dark that you need to add.


                                  1. re: FoodFuser
                                    Jim Leff Jun 28, 2009 01:16 PM

                                    What grinder do you use? KitchenAid grinder attachment apparently does a real crappy grind...more of a mash. And it's finicky, with frequent jams. There's a more powerful $300 model from Northern Industrial that's supposed to be a lot better, but there are complaints on amazon about fit and finish (they're made in china, and you've got to, for example, flatten the blades on a wetstone before using. The Waring Pro MG-800 sounds like maybe a good bet, though I've seen quality complaints there as well.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff
                                      smtucker Jun 28, 2009 01:29 PM

                                      I have been grinding my own meats with a kitchenaid attachment for about a year. I admit that my first try, it was a mess. Things jammed, and the results were abysmal, but it turned out I didn't have the blade!

                                      Now, with a sharp blade, the grind is perfectly good. There is no mashing. We make all our own ground lamb, chicken, pork and beef, some of which are turned into sausages. If you prepare the meat properly, and don't plan to do commercial quantities, the attachment works extremely well.

                                      I have read all the negative reviews too, and almost didn't bother because of them, but membership in a meat CSA made the grinding option important and so I gave it a shot.

                                      The kitchenaid grinder attachment is a very affordable way to move into home-grinding, if you already own the mixer.

                                      1. re: Jim Leff
                                        c oliver Jun 28, 2009 01:42 PM

                                        I agree with smtucker. I've read here some of that about the KA but have only praise for it. I do 5-8# of various meats at a time and have had not a single problem. I run my mixer at a relatively low speed and I cut the pieces of meat (turkey, pork and beef so far) into pieces that are the approximate shape of the feed tube. Easy as can be.

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          FoodFuser Jun 28, 2009 08:20 PM

                                          Agreed that KA is great if you're not wanting to do large volumes, which call for larger throat diameter and increased wattage. Those 1.5 horsepower #32 grinders are sweet, but it costs lots of bucks to get in the big game.

                                          The KA is a great platform for home grinding.

                                          Google around for tips on freezing the grinder components, the meat, etc to make the grinding go smoothest. The closer everything is to 32 degrees, the fewer problems. I grind into a stainless bowl that was frozen, then reinsert in freezer for a few minutes (along with the grinder), before second grind.

                                          Cutting the meat to small pieces helps. Examine the size of the channels of the screw drive of the grinder, and cut meat accordingly. And importantly, for pork and beef,trim out any long loose strips of connective tissues, because they can slip between the blade and the grinder plate. Your first silverskin jam will give you a feel for this.

                                          To prevent splashing of juices, I take a 6" by 6" piece of Saran, and screw it onto the front of the grinder housing, so that it is attached at top side only, and drapes over the exit. Saved a few shirts that way.

                                          1. re: FoodFuser
                                            c oliver Jun 29, 2009 05:01 AM

                                            I've read most of these suggestions before (and appreciate them) but have never had any problems. Whatever the meat it, just comes out of the fridge, the grinder parts are at room temp, etc. But I don't do a second grind. I also have never had any *juices* splashing. I wonder (but not very hard!) why I don't have these issues and others do.

                                            1. re: c oliver
                                              FoodFuser Jun 30, 2009 05:54 AM

                                              Yes... the above recs are most important when dealing with several pounds of fatty pork butt, with numerous connective fascia. Combine fascia with fat and grinding 10 lbs of pork butt might engender issues that aren't as germane on a "ground turkey" thread.

                                              As to temp: we've all seen the recs for bringing meat to a barely frozen temp if we want to do thin slicing. It works. The grinder's knife appreciates the same thing.

                                              So give it a try with a ten pounder Boston butt. Keep the Saran handy.

                                              1. re: FoodFuser
                                                c oliver Jun 30, 2009 04:34 PM

                                                Is a Boston butt the same as a pork shoulder? That's not a term I'm familiar with.

                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                  sbp Jun 30, 2009 04:42 PM

                                                  Sort of. I'm not absolutely clear on this, but I believe a Boston Butt is a part of the pork shoulder. A pork picnic is also a part of the pork shoulder. I believe one is the upper portion, one the lower. All I'm certain of is that around me, the Hispanic supermarkets carry "pork shoulder" or pernil, the major supermarkets carry "picnic", and no one labels anything Boston butt.

                                                  1. re: sbp
                                                    c oliver Jun 30, 2009 04:46 PM

                                                    I make my sausage out of pork shoulder and there's no splatter. So I AM curious. I totally believe those who talking about the splatter etc. I just haven't had the problem. Knock wood.

                                                  2. re: c oliver
                                                    FoodFuser Jun 30, 2009 05:03 PM

                                                    as a quick intro twixt butt shoulder picnic Boston etc:

                                                    This next one spells it out. For grinding, with fewer sinews and less skin and less cap fat, you want butt, which includes the full shoulder blade/scapula. :

                                                    Picnic/lower portion of shoulder is best used for long slow heat, as in BBQ, though butt is also desirable there, too.

                                                    Boston Butt is a very traditional name. "pork shoulder" is the most often used name in my area for upper (butt) shoulder. The pics will tell the tale.

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              laylag Jun 28, 2009 06:48 PM

                              I do this too for both the burgers and the turkey meatloaf and it always works out great. I use baby bellas for a "meatier" flavor. Which mushrooms do you use ghg and have you experiemented with different kinds?

                              1. re: laylag
                                goodhealthgourmet Jun 28, 2009 06:58 PM

                                yep, crimini are definitely preferable to white buttons because they have more flavor. if i'm limited to white mushrooms, i just make sure i saute & season them well to add flavor. shiitake are really the best - they have a ton of meaty, umami flavor, and if you use re-hydrated dried ones you can add some of the soaking liquid to the meat for even more flavor & moisture.

                                one other thing - since i'm on a gluten-free diet and can't *stand* packaged GF buns, i sometimes use grilled portobello mushroom caps as the bun. when i do that, i chop the stems from the portobellos and add them to the other chopped mushrooms.

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            naneharvey Jul 25, 2009 07:17 PM

                            I made turkey burgers tonight and got high praise from my SO.
                            Finely chopped onions AND mushrooms were key -- sauteed first in lots of olive oil AND butter to "lard" the ground turkey breast I got at the Farmers Market.
                            dash of Worcestershire sauce and
                            a handful of Panko Bread Crumbs
                            Lettuce and Russian Dressing (ghetto version made w/ ketchup and mayo) on the bread

                          3. re: lagatta
                            Jim Leff Jun 26, 2009 05:45 PM

                            No, the powdered ginger was very purposeful. I didn't want a deep and broad ginger flavor...didn't want a distinguishably gingery result, just an overall meaty flavor, which this blend seemed to accomplish quite well.

                            I think you're right on the onion, though, and finely minced sounds about right. That'll be my next addition. Problem is that I don't want to risk the slightest crunchy/chewiness with the onion nibs, I think that'd be too much for the delicacy of the turkey. So I'd want to sautee them a bit first...though not to the point where they're dried out, 'cuz, as Caitlin says, I want them to add some moisture. It'll be tough to find the right point.

                            1. re: Jim Leff
                              Caitlin McGrath Jun 26, 2009 06:19 PM

                              If you're concerned about the texture of the onions, you could try grated onions. That would give you their moisture, but not distract with the texture of chopped pieces.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                kchurchill5 Jun 26, 2009 06:26 PM

                                I do use grated onions when I can, lots of fine chopped peppers and I do use my one slice of bread soaked in milk. I know this will not get approval, but I do use it.

                                Sorry about that. But spices are usually worcestershire, steak sauce, garlic, parsley, s/p for the burger. Sometimes more. I make it a bit different every time. I also like to add some white wine in one recipe I have with basically all fresh herbs, onions and mushrooms. It has a great flavor.

                                It always comes out tender and light and yes, cooking is the key. Take it off when it is lightly pink but not well done. It continues to cook and a few minutes later it is done. perfectly. Nice and juicy.

                          4. Caralien Jun 26, 2009 08:06 PM

                            thank you!

                            I've only successfully used ground turkey in meatballs and meatloaf--it was too lean for real burgers. This looks like something which would work.

                            Question--any recommendations for grilling?

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: Caralien
                              Jim Leff Jun 26, 2009 08:16 PM

                              I wouldn't grill. Turkey just can't stand up to the dryness. The braise/steam/fry technique is the only thing that seems to work for me.

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                Caralien Jun 26, 2009 08:24 PM

                                That sucks, but I'll see what I can do to prove you wrong (in the name of good Chow, of course!)

                                1. re: Caralien
                                  Jim Leff Jun 26, 2009 08:30 PM

                                  You can't get past the fact that grilling is drying. Good, careful grilling minimizes the drying. But ground turkey STARTS OUT dry to begin with!

                                  So unless you're willing to slather on some fat, which defeats the purpose of using turkey in the first place, you really need to cook with moist heat.

                                  1. re: Jim Leff
                                    Caralien Jun 26, 2009 08:44 PM

                                    my thoughts were to start with a meatloaf recipe, such as the low carb one from FN:

                                    (I modified the recipe for my meatloaf--omitting the proscuitto and provolone, as well as the tomato sauce, splenda, vinagre; replaced the ground meat with turkey b/c it was too greasy with the original recipe, also asiago to replace half of the parmesan; one of the best meatloaves I've made


                                    That's for starters. My thought is that the onions and peppers would provide moisture (possibly pureed first), the parmesan fat and salt. Maybe egg yolks as another binder, with added fat.

                                    All things considered, if this works, it would still be lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than a beef burger. Although then it would be turkey meatloaf burgers instead of turkey burgers?

                                    1. re: Caralien
                                      Jim Leff Jun 27, 2009 07:55 AM

                                      "Although then it would be turkey meatloaf burgers instead of turkey burgers?"

                                      Yeah, a similar thought went thru my head on my own recipe, which yields something more burger-like than a real burger. In the end, though...whatever!

                                      I'd love to be proved wrong on the grilling thing. I'll try some of the suggestions posted by others and post notes...hope you do likewise!

                                      1. re: Jim Leff
                                        c oliver Jun 27, 2009 08:07 AM

                                        I ground my own turkey and it was quite coarse. And then there were a lot of wet ingredients with apple, chutney, etc. Perhaps those things helped.

                                    2. re: Jim Leff
                                      sbp Jun 28, 2009 06:41 PM

                                      Grilling is drying, but if the turkey meat is amended with moistening ingredients, it does fine on the grill (and nothing beats a grilled burger for taste). I generally saute minced onions in a little olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper. Allow to cool, mix into the turkey meat. This solves the dryness issue. Yes, you're adding fat, but not animal fat, so it's still pretty healthy. Adding some crumbled blue cheese (I like Maytag best) into the meat also keeps it moist and tastes great, but of course you lose the health benefits.

                                    3. re: Caralien
                                      goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2009 08:51 PM

                                      go for it, Caralien. i've had very juicy grilled turkey burgers - as we were discussing up-thread, mixing chopped/grated vegetables into the patty keeps it moist.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                        Caralien Jun 26, 2009 08:59 PM

                                        I'm addicted to mushrooms, so adding that to the veggie puree would be great too!


                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          Jim Leff Jun 26, 2009 09:39 PM

                                          Maybe I'm just being ignorant here, but nofat yogurt is such a useful and transparent moisturizer for baked goods...would it make any sense at all to mix it into the ground turkey? Sounds gross, I know, but the secret with Shanghai meatballs (aka lion's head) is to mix tofu into the meat, and that works quite well.....

                                          1. re: Jim Leff
                                            karenfinan Jun 26, 2009 10:42 PM

                                            I use nonfat yogurt all the time in my turkey burgers....and I cook them on the grill. You do have to watch them very carefully- perhaps not quite extreme neurotic attention, but pretty close- so that they don't overcook and dry out too much. I think the nonfat yogurt also helps deliver the flavor of all the spices mentioned above- worchestershire, soy, cumin, etc, etc.

                                            1. re: Jim Leff
                                              goodhealthgourmet Jun 27, 2009 12:03 PM

                                              Jim, there's nothing "ignorant" about that! it makes perfect sense. some people use milk to make a panade for meatloaf, meatballs and burgers, and the purpose of the panade is to keep things moist. nonfat yogurt, evaporated skim milk, light sour cream...they all work.

                                      2. re: Caralien
                                        c oliver Jun 27, 2009 05:05 AM

                                        The recipe I use above definitely works on the grill. They're SO soft you just have to be really careful when turning them. About three minutes a side.

                                        1. re: Caralien
                                          kchurchill5 Jun 27, 2009 10:09 AM

                                          I grill them, just can't over grill. I do make sure I have plenty of moisture in mine, even an egg at times which goes against alot of recs but if nothing else you need moisture with some vegetables to make it moist and flavorful.

                                          I also freeze mine just a short while. Being more moist this helps them stay together well. Not frozen solid. Just chilled a bit to get them firm. I love my red pepper aioli, a good slice of tomato and lettuce on a onion roll

                                        2. Cheese Boy Jun 26, 2009 10:30 PM

                                          Take an innocuous vegetable like zucchini to a box grater. Grate an entire medium size zucchini, one per pound of meat, and mix that in with your turkey. It will keep those burgers a bit more moist, and as an added bonus, the burgers will look a lot prettier too. As for spicing, continue as you would.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Cheese Boy
                                            Sharuf Jun 28, 2009 05:02 AM

                                            One of the first of Aidell's sausages was chicken-apple. I assume the apple was to lend moisture.

                                          2. c
                                            crt Jun 28, 2009 11:59 AM

                                            Turkey burgers are easy. Easy to keep moist, and tasty.

                                            The trick in our house is adding a couple of things that will impart moistness. Well actually 3. Chopped jalapenos, chopped green onions, and an egg yolk. And we cook on the GFC (George Foreman Grill) for about 8 minutes. Perfect everytime. Slip the pattie on top of the bottom (toasted oinion) bun that has been toasted on a flat cast iron skillet and topped with slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Then top the pattie with a slice of beefsteak tomato and green leaf lettuce and the top bun that has some mayo and mustard spread on. Oh yeah, yum!

                                            1. l
                                              lergnom Jun 28, 2009 02:46 PM

                                              Because the girls in my house won't eat red meat, I make a lot of chicken on the grill, notably chicken burgers, which I now prefer to most beef burgers. I've learned that ground chicken takes flavoring more readily than turkey, so you can make burgers that taste of curry, herbs de provence, oregano, chipotle or whatever your preference. I've found that ground chicken is also more forgiving on the grill.

                                              A number of people - like Cook's, Ina Garten - stick milk soaked bread in their burger meat. I will sometimes stick a pad of butter in the middle of a chicken burger and / or will mix in goat cheese.

                                              My current favorite prep is salt, cumin, smoked paprika, aleppo pepper, turkish oregano, tarragon, and chipotle - if you want a real kick then use canned actual peppers. BTW, the meat won't stick to the grill if you lightly spray the burgers or simply handle them with a little oil on your fingers.

                                              1. blue room Jun 28, 2009 09:00 PM

                                                This thread reminds me of some chicken burgers I've tried --
                                                (They won a $25,000 prize!) Whenever I have them I'm always impressed anew with how good they are.
                                                I grind in my food processor, don't own a big mixer. Would the results be similar?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: blue room
                                                  kchurchill5 Jun 29, 2009 04:34 AM

                                                  I have made similar, but this recipe looks very very good. This is on my list. I'm not a big follow recipe person, but this is something I would really like. Thx for posting

                                                2. Caralien Jul 20, 2009 07:00 PM

                                                  I tried a version on the hibachi:
                                                  1lb ground turkey
                                                  1/4C grated romano
                                                  1 egg
                                                  1/2C fat free yogurt
                                                  5oz button mushrooms

                                                  First: I used too much yogurt, and should have strained it overnight. I did try chilling the blobs in the freezer first, but that didn't help much

                                                  It was the messiest we have ever made the hibachi, BUT the flavour was great. Next time, less yogurt and more spices, greasing the grill. The texture was fluffier and more like a meatloaf, but great flavour. I may want to add something else for texture, but wanted to post that this does work. We were lazy tonight and didn't even grease the grill, which added to the sticking.

                                                  1. penthouse pup Jul 21, 2009 09:13 AM

                                                    Many posts, but may I add--

                                                    We mince mushrooms and onions and saute until soft--and then work into the turkey the onions, mushroom and goat cheese. These additions keep the burger moist (we pan fry) and adding fresh thyme or oregano into the mix gives a nice after-effect...My local butcher grinds the fresh turkey in front of me (if you live in NYC, that's Pino, on Sullivan Street)....He always has a whole breast at the ready...

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: penthouse pup
                                                      Jim Leff Jul 21, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                      Last minute addition for me, too. Much of this thread consisted of people suggesting things to work into the turkey to moisten (yogurt, mushrooms, onions, etc).

                                                      Maybe I'm doing things wrong, but even the slightest, gentlest manipulation of the meat prior to cooking turns it into an irredeemable knot of toughness.

                                                      1. re: Jim Leff
                                                        Caralien Jul 22, 2009 07:23 PM

                                                        Jim--there was nothing tough about the meat we cooked on the hibachi. Take a moment, relax, have a glass, and decide that it will work. I too have OCD, but seriously, sometimes food just needs to be left alone to work. Like an omelet--if you fuss with it, it's (at best) scrambled eggs. But leave it, walk away for a moment, and take a breath, then return--it might be okay. Though in this case, leave the turkey mush on the grill for 6-10 minutes when overly wet (my used recipe), then flip when it gives (the general rule for anything on a grill).

                                                        1. re: Caralien
                                                          Jim Leff Jul 23, 2009 08:47 AM

                                                          I appreciate the psychological counseling, but am not sure what you're actually suggesting.

                                                          Manipulation of any ground meat, compacts fibers and increases risk of toughness. All the more so with ground turkey. And indeed, I've found that if I try to "work in" other ingredients (as opposed ot the sprinkling on I described in my original posting) - even ingredients intended to moisten and loosen - the result is compaction and toughness. Even if I'm gentle. Even if I've had a glass of merlot. Even if I'm wearing organic cotton and chanting OM and listening to Yanni tapes. I honestly don't believe the issue is spiritual.

                                                          So I'm actually concluding it works better when I'm doing less and "leaving it alone". But then I'm not following all the kind advice above from people who seem to be experiencing other results. Hence my posting, which was a cry for culinary, not psychic, help.

                                                          1. re: Jim Leff
                                                            sbp Jul 23, 2009 10:17 AM

                                                            Someone needs a hug. I do a mix in of sauteed onions, sometimes blue cheese, and I don't have a regular problem with compaction (and a compacted burger, beef or turkey, is one of my pet peeves). It may have something to do with the ground turkey itself. I generally buy the regular ground turkey, not the turkey breast. Also, I look for the packages with a clearly coarse, wavy "just out of the grinder" look. They seem to be less worked on by the butcher, and seem to withstand some folding.

                                                            1. re: sbp
                                                              Jim Leff Jul 23, 2009 08:54 PM

                                                              I don't need a hug, just a more toothesome turkey burger!

                                                              Yes, I'm using ground turkey BREAST, which is indeed much drier. If you buy unspecified ground turkey, you're probably getting lots of skin and fat, as well. Wouldn't make sense for me, as I'm into the turkey thing solely for the health thing.

                                                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                c oliver Jul 24, 2009 09:18 AM

                                                                Let's try a different approach, okay? Do you have a stand mixer? I have a KA and for about $50 bought a grinder that attaches to it. I bought a 7/8# turkey, removed the meat, used the skin, fat and bones for stock and ground up the white and dark meats. From there I proceeded with the Mar-a-Lago recipe. It's SO moist I have to be careful that it doesn't fall apart. A simpler way to go is to buy ground white meat turkey and follow that recipe. If you're still having problems with dryness then it's got to be something in your technique. Others here have used that recipe (with storebought turkey) and thought it was great. This need not conquer you :) No hugs from me!!!!!

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                  Val Jul 24, 2009 09:31 AM

                                                                  And this is very interesting...the Publix ground turkey available to us here in FL is much higher in fat & calories than the national brand Jennie-O; both are labeled "ground turkey" but the Jennie-O does mention 93/7 lean and the numbers are much better than the Publix regular ground turkey.

                                                              2. re: Jim Leff
                                                                kattyeyes Jul 23, 2009 06:16 PM

                                                                Jim, did you ever get around to trying the Mar-a-Lago turkey burgers c oliver suggested upthread? There are three votes (mine is one) in this thread for the recipe. I had extra from when we made them at home and we grilled them on the raclette this past winter. Nothing spiritual or psychological about it--just a tasty recipe. Here 'tis again:

                                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                  c oliver Jul 23, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                  You know how much I love them. Took the meat from a whole, albeit small, turkey and made this into 6 oz. patties and froze. All gone; need to make more. If Oprah thought they were good, that was enough rec for me. They're super, aren't they?

                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                    kattyeyes Jul 23, 2009 06:25 PM

                                                                    They were very flavorful and not the least bit dry. All this turkey talk makes me think it's time to revisit the recipe soon! Besides, I have no other use for Major Grey's chutney (nor had I ever heard of it before this recipe!).

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                      c oliver Jul 23, 2009 06:30 PM

                                                                      Ditto re Maj. Grey's --- well, I'd HEARD of it but, yeah, never used it before or since.

                                                                      A note of caution: this burgers are SO moist that I keep them refrigerated til almost time to grill. And, yes, that's on the grill. Also be careful turning them over, I used a *flipper* and a fork. They're THAT moist!

                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                        Caitlin McGrath Jul 23, 2009 09:25 PM

                                                                        Try mixing some Major Grey's with soft fresh goat cheese; spread on a cracker or slice of baguette, fresh or toasted, for a before-dinner (or anytime) nibble.

                                                                  2. re: kattyeyes
                                                                    Jim Leff Jul 23, 2009 08:58 PM

                                                                    "Jim, did you ever get around to trying the Mar-a-Lago turkey burgers c oliver suggested upthread "

                                                                    Question is: how do you do the mixing in without compressing the meat? I tried, as a preliminary experiment, merely adding in some sauteed onions - treating the meat as gingerly as plastic explosives - and the result was like chewing knots.

                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                      kattyeyes Jul 24, 2009 05:23 AM

                                                                      I'm a tender mixer, Jim. ;) In all seriousness, I treat meatloaf/meatballs the same way and always get a moist result. I also use my hands to mix, if that helps.

                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                        Jim Leff Jul 24, 2009 07:41 AM

                                                                        But my mega-ginger treatment did mean mixing via hand. Slowly. Gently. Carefully. Trying not to compress the strands.

                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                          kattyeyes Jul 24, 2009 08:38 AM

                                                                          "Maybe this snack not for you." I don't know what else to offer--sorry!

                                                          2. kattyeyes Jul 25, 2009 08:41 PM

                                                            We had Mar-A-Lago burgers again last night. Not to appear difficult, I must share with you these are pretty darned easy to throw together and aren't fussy whatsoever. Why not give the recipe a shot and see what you think? We each had one, then froze the other two so we can have 'em again next week. Tasty, tasty.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                                              millygirl Aug 23, 2009 04:07 PM

                                                              I can vouch for the Mar A Lago burgers, excellent!!!!

                                                              1. re: millygirl
                                                                c oliver Aug 23, 2009 04:10 PM

                                                                I have about 4# worth in the freezer right now. Yum.

                                                            2. h
                                                              HillJ Aug 23, 2009 08:30 AM


                                                              via CHOW video recommendation-add ricotta cheese

                                                              1. janie Feb 16, 2010 05:34 PM

                                                                First time making turkey burgers tonight..now, I make killer turkey meatballs, put them in soup, and put them in marinara sauce to cook--however, the turkey burger has eluded me till this evening when my toddler kept insisting on one..so, had a 1 lb package of beautiful ground white turkey (whole foods does it for me on the spot) that had defrosted in my fridge, and was still a bit solidified when I went to mix it up for the burgers--but, didn't think this would be a big deal--researched both on chowhound and elsewhere, and it seems like while the favored way of cooking is on a real outdoor grill, that there were satisfied cooks using an oven broiler, pan frying them either in a cast iron or non stick pan with oil, or using an indoor electric grill like Cuisinart Griddler or another brand.

                                                                I've made beef hamburgers before on the Cuisinart Griddler using the grill inserts (the grooved one) and using in the closed method--didn't find that they were juicy and also, felt like you just couldn't control the cooking time too well, especially if you had to keep opening it to check whose was med, rare, etc....Since we mostly eat burgers out, I haven't tried it recently until tonight, and with turkey burger.

                                                                From what I read, it said for a 3/4" high burger, it takes about 6-7 minutes a side if you're turning it, or 6-7 minutes if you're using a closed method. My grooved grill inserts have gotten sort of rusty, but I use the griddle flat ones pretty often for pancakes, so they're in good shape--so, I thought I could just use the flat griddle ones like for example, 5 guys would do or any kind of fry griddle burger place--SO, from what I read, it said to set the temp at 400 degrees for the griddle--I did set it a bit higher than this 425 is the highest, it wasn't this high though)--and I wiped a bit of veg oil on the griddle and put the turkey burger--left it there for 6 minutes flipped it with no problem, no stickiness, and the edges seemed uncooked, so I kind of rolled the sides on the griddle like one would for browning meatballs, and then I took a temp reading (maybe my thermometer is not working right--it did hit my tile floor a few times)---and it was nowhere near 160-165--so, I gave it another minute each side, and still no change--maybe 140--so, I did another 1 minute now, I'm up to 8 min at side, and still not going high enough, since I didn't want to take a chance on undercooking--and since my kid cuts everything up into little pieces anyway--and dips them in barbecue sauce--I decided to cut the burger open to see if it was white inside--it seemed pretty white, but it didn't feel that hot to the touch in the inside, so I grilled it on the open sides---anyway---seems like if I didn't cut it open, it might have needed 10 minutes a side, which seems kind off crazy considering the times I saw. Anyway, my kid said he liked it, and it did still seem juicy, not dried out, and it appear to be white inside--but can something be white and not reach proper temp? I was a little worried it was safe for him to eat, but he gobbled it up, with barbecue sauce on it and a whole wheat burger bun.

                                                                I have the other 3 burgers in my fridge and would like to cook them without a problem, and would love some suggestions, from someone who either uses this same griddler or has a solid time for broiling in oven.. Thank you so much!

                                                                My recipe for the burgers:
                                                                1 lb turkey white meat
                                                                1.5 tablespoon reggiano cheese
                                                                1 tbsp Greek 0% yogurt
                                                                2 tbsp of seasoned bread crumbs
                                                                garlic powder
                                                                dry mustart
                                                                1/2 small minced onion

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: janie
                                                                  c oliver Feb 16, 2010 06:57 PM

                                                                  I'm not very concerned about food safety so am probably not the best person to reply here but I will anyway :) It sounds like this burger was painfully overcooked. Why didn't you taste it? The recipe itself seems like a recipe for dryness and then to cook it for 20 minutes just seems SO overcooked. With your concern for doneness, burgers might not be the best dish for you and your family. And if you do want to do them, remember that WF ground this in front of you. You have so little chance of getting sick. Your toddler faces far more risks on a play date, I bet :)

                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                    janie Feb 16, 2010 07:58 PM

                                                                    It was definitely not overcooked, as it was juicy and white inside---and the texture was fine...I just finished cooking the remaining burgers and I broiled them, and they came out perfect---7 minutes on a side about 4 inches from broiler on HI, with door about 5" ajar. Had some leftover roasted vegetable from day before that I microwaved to just reheat (had roasted turnips, sweet dried cherries, onions, carrots thinly sliced, almonds, fresh ginger, garlic--) put this on top of burgers on a nice crusty bun...it was perfect. Think I'll stick to the broiling rather than the griddler, or I'll try pan frying them again--perhaps---but the broiling was easy--and no smoke or mess---also, if you haven't used the greek yogurt with turkey try it, because that is what locks in the moisture---failproof method of protecting them from overcooking----
                                                                    Guess I'm concerned about food safety when it comes to undercooked poultry or mishandling of it, because I almost died from salmonella when I was 8--so when you've gone through something so horrible ---you try to be hyperaware of those kinds of dangers from undercooked poultry.

                                                                2. c oliver Mar 1, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                                  Just came across this recipe on another thread:


                                                                  Haven't tried them yet but they sound terrific.

                                                                  Just had the Mar-a-Lago ones again (probably the 10th time) the other night. Done on the grill, not dried out. It's got to be your technique. I can't figure out why you have this problem when many others don't.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                    kattyeyes Mar 1, 2010 09:07 AM

                                                                    Those look delicious! I'd probably just do them as regular burgers instead of skewered ones, but I love this idea. Now, to find a gingered noodle recipe on which to serve these. Hmmmmmmm. Suggestions welcome.

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                      c oliver Mar 1, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                      I had the same thought about the noodles

                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                        kattyeyes Mar 1, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                        This could be a winner--it has a five-star rating and good feedback:

                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                          c oliver Mar 1, 2010 09:47 AM

                                                                          This sounds great. I saved it and will be making this soon. I also like that with the burger recipe I can just use my FP and not mess with grinding.

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