Chiptole Turkey Burgers

July 17, 2008

Do you have recipes that have you convinced that the dish is healthy, virtuous, practically spa-worthy because it involves a certain ingredient? Because I’ve got tons of them. Come summer, the turkey burger is at the top of that list. Swap out the ground sirloin for ground turkey and, voila, you’re on a diet! Never mind the fact that the generous canopy of cheese, the giant bun and the smears of condiments remain. It’s a turkey burger: eat it with reckless abandon.

Teasing aside, I don’t just make these turkey burgers because they lessen the guilt. They also happen to be delicious. I’ve played around with the technique for a while (okay, fine, practically once a week, but who’s counting?) and I’ve come to a few conclusions. They are these: (1) do not overwork the meat; (2) add to the meat some minced onion or shallot as well as some flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, which will prevent the burgers from drying out; (3) account for shrinkage on the grill: shape your patties into rounds that are larger that the surface area of the buns you’re using; (4) cheese: use it, preferably a sharp or smoked cheddar.

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I’ve mentioned many times that my sister, Kevin and I have a little weekly tradition that we like to call Family Dinner. But really, we might as well call it “Expanding Ali’s Palate” night. Because somewhere along the line, we went from making crowd pleasers like pizza to subjecting my sister to crazy ideas like salmon, coq au vin and falafel. And, can I tell you something? She loves it. Just last night, I stuck a bowl of fava bean dip (no, I didn’t take photos and yes, I’m sorry) in front of her and she fearlessly dove in and proclaimed it “better than hummus,” which is very high praise indeed.

Not only does she seem to like all these new dishes, but she even requests that we make some of them twice. After Falafel Part I, we took falafel in a new direction with a spring pea falafel recipe (again, no pictures and, again, my apologies). But after we first made these turkey meatballs—about which Ali was way more than a little squeamish, at first—she wanted no variations. She wanted an exact replica. And, knowing me all too well (and thus knowing that repeats are not really my thing), she gently reminded me that I hadn’t even blogged about them the first time around. Well played, Ali.

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Mini Turkey Meatloaves

February 27, 2008

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It’s my belief that, by and large, people of my generation don’t really do meatloaf. It’s not that we have anything against eating our meat in less-than-natural shapes. Many of the proteins of our childhoods came in a shaped fashion: nuggets (as in the “Mc” kind) and sticks (fish), for example. And while I may have outgrown these shapes, I still enjoy meatballs and all manner of burger patties.

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But the loaf? Not so much. This comes as a great shock and disappointment to my parents, who eagerly anticipate very regular meatloaf nights—a tradition they hatched pretty much the instant both my sister and I moved out of the house. While my parents’ love of the loaf form, along with the comfort food craze a few years back, make it clear that a segment of the population adores meatloaf, I’ve just had a hard time getting all that excited about it.

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