July 4th!! Independence Day!! Flags. Fireworks galore. We watched the firework show that the American Legion had from our backyard. This will be the very first firework show we have seen in New Lenox. Yeah. For the past 3 years, the firework shows have been washed out due to rain. We're hoping we'll be able to catch the show at the high school tomorrow.

4th of July is grillin' time, folks!! Lots of grillin'. Corn on the cob (bhutta - Indian style). And chilled watermelon.

I made incredible turkey burgers the other day. I just have to share the recipe. It's my own. My 5 year old simply loved them!!

Turkey Burgers
A touch of mint and lots of spice

This is something that you can toss together while your coal is heating up. What? You have a gas grill? You're losing out on something essential...Flavor! You have no grill at all? Go get one. You must!! I have one of those cheap $30 charcoal grills that I bought from some bargain store. It has survived 3 Chicagoland winters without a cover. I was kind of hoping it would not survive this last winter so I could buy a new grill with all the works...oh well!

Here's what you will need:

1 tray of Jennie-O lean ground turkey (approx 20 oz)
1 tablespoon of very finely chopped garlic(you could grate it too...but it tastes better if it is chopped fine)
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
5-6 fresh mint leaves, sliced fine
2-3 teaspoons of any garam masala**optional(I prefer Shan's Chicken Tikka masala or Boti Kabab masala. Even Nihari or Paya Curry masala will do. If you don't have Shan, then any old garam masala will do. Add more if you want to kick it up a bit. I do!!)
fresh ground pepper(as much as you want to add)
egg white**optional(This works like a binder but I have found that I don't need it. If you can't separate the yolk from the egg white and have no cholesterol issues then just add the whole darned egg!!)
1/3 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue sauce for basting while grilling

Hmmm....Let's start. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except the Sweet Baby Ray's sauce - that's to use while grilling, remember? Mix everything together so that it's all well blended. Use your hands - you have to get them dirty. Using a spoon or spatula will just not work as the spices need to be rubbed well into the meat.

If you have a young child at home who cannot handle the spices, then do not add the garam masala and freshly ground black pepper as yet. Place aside some of this mixture for your kids or anyone else who cannot tolerate the heat. Then add the garam masala and pepper and mix well. Shape and pat this mixture into burgers.

I usually make 6 burgers from 1 packet of Jennie-O's. This seems to work out really well for us.

Brush some oil onto the grate and place the burgers on your hot grill at medium heat. Keep turning the burgers over every now and then. After the burgers are no longer pink on the outside, baste them with Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce. Turn them over. Baste the other side and cook for a couple of minutes. Baste. Turn over. Baste. Turn over. Basting and frequent turning ensures that the burgers remain very moist. About 15-20 minutes later, you have the most delicious turkey burgers, ever!!

I don't baste my daughter's burgers with the bbq sauce. She finds that 'spicy' - but she will eat Hot Mix!! I brush hers with olive oil.

Interesting things to do with these burgers
I don't work at shaping the burgers till they look like the burgers you get at the fast food places. Mine are round and about an inch or more thick. These can then be sliced thin and stuffed into pocket pitas with chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, a slice of cheese - simply anything you may feel like adding.

The wonderful thing about creating your own recipes is that you can do precisely what you want!! Believe me, the results are often very inspiring and very very gratifying. Imagine how overwhelmed I am when my 5 year old wolfs these down like she has never seen food before. And this from a child who is less than 10 percentile for weight and seems to survive on air.

A variation of this recipe is to saute chopped onions in the olive oil, add everything except the meat, mint and cilantro and saute some more. Cool the mixture and then the rest of the ingredients. Go out and grill your burgers!

Check for salt
How do you know if you have added enough salt? That has always been my basic dilemma with each dish. With raw meat, tasting is not an option - so what I put a very small amount of the mixture in a bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Heat it in the microwave for 30-35 seconds or as much time as it will take for that teeny amount of meat to cook. It might become leathery but hey! you will be able to tell if you added the right amount of salt.

The nicest part about these burgers is that they can be spiced to the level you want. They are made from lean ground turkey - so none of the red meat and cholesterol issues come into play. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil - it's the best!!

Burgers, corn and watermelon!! A terrific meal!!


Unknown said...

Hi! Glad to see you differentiated between gas and charcoal as way of giving tast and flavor to the food. A step further, using lump charcoal and you can be a step closer to having real flavor without fear of additives and binders that might be inorganic and that could also give an un-natural flavor to the food.

We also understand the problem with having children who are either picky eaters or possibly a gluten allergy. We have both sauce and rub that is gluten free so if you have readers that have that kind of problem, there is an answer and it does not involve giving up taste or a big expense.

Hal Wagner
Charcoal and More