Last week, while in La Jolla, California, my husband and I decided to stop at a deli for lunch. Since our server spent so much time raving about the burgers (the house specialty), it was clear that I should try the turkey burger. I anticipated being served a delicious burger made with choice meat, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. However, I soon found myself biting into a leathery, salty patty containing equal parts dry meat and overcooked rice grains. I must admit that my dog, Enzo, is served better meat than that!
A few days later in Los Angeles, I decided to have the burger my way – I combined ground turkey with fresh veggies, herbs and spices. As I bit into my deli specialty, I finally experienced that long awaited burger bliss.
PREPARING THE MEAT FOR THE BURGERS:
1/2 medium brown or white onion
1/2 small zucchini
1/2 medium carrot, peeled
1 pound extra lean ground beef or dark ground turkey meat (organic meat preferred)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, beaten with 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (optional)
Dash ground cumin and ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. In a food processor, grind together the onion, zucchini and carrot until finely chopped.
2. In an 3-quart glass or porcelain mixing bowl, combine the chopped ingredients with the ground meat, mint, parsley, salt, bread crumbs, chipotle chiles, cumin and nutmeg with a fork until mixture is uniform.
3. With wet hands, divide meat mixture into six portions.
4. Shape each portion into 4 to 5-inch patties, about 1/2 inch thick; set aside on a platter.
5. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cook patties in two batches on medium high heat, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
6. To test doneness, press down on one burger with a spatula. If juices run clear, the burgers are done.
7. Place burgers inside panini rolls and place on a serving platter; transfer to dining table.
ASSEMBLING THE BURGERS:
6 panini bread rolls preferred
2 tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 red onion, finely sliced
6 lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
Condiments (catsup, mustard, relish)
1. On a serving platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes and onions alongside the lettuce.
2. Place the platter and the condiments next to burgers on table. Ask each guest to garnish their own burger.
Serve burgers with a side of fries or gourmet veggie chips.
Note: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are sold in a can and are found in the ethnic foods section of most supermarkets or in Latin American grocery stores.
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real