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Turkey Burgers

Turkey burgers satisfy a primal craving for meat without weighing you down. Use regular ground turkey, which is a mix of white and dark meat, as ground turkey breast is too lean for grilling.

Ingredients:

For the spice-herb butter: 

  • 2 Tbs. white peppercorns, toasted 
  • 2 Tbs. fennel seeds, toasted 
  • 2 Tbs. coriander seeds, toasted 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh sage, chopped 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped 
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 Tbs. granulated garlic 
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon 
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt 
  •   
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey  
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste  
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, or as needed 
  • Vegetable oil for grill 
  • 6 sandwich rolls such as seeded Kaiser, ciabatta or brioche, split, or white bread slices, cut into rounds using a large biscuit cutter 
  • Melted unsalted butter for brushing  
  • 1/2 iceberg or romaine lettuce head, shredded 
  • Dill pickle slices for serving 
  • Chutney for serving (optional) 
  • Basic barbecue sauce for serving (see related recipe at left; optional) 

Directions:

To make the spice-herb butter, in a spice grinder or blender, combine the white peppercorns, fennel and coriander seeds and process into a coarse powder. In a small bowl, stir together the spice powder, rosemary, sage, thyme, butter, granulated garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. (The spice-herb butter will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.)

Put the turkey in a large bowl and generously season with salt and black pepper. Add the stock, 1 Tbs. at a time, as needed to moisten the meat. Using wet hands, gently work the seasoning and stock into the meat, working quickly to keep the meat cool and being careful not to overwork it.

Divide the turkey mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Place the patties on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Grill the burgers until nicely grill-marked, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the burgers over, brush with the spice-herb butter, and grill until nicely charred and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes more. Brush the insides of the rolls with melted butter and grill, cut sides down, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Turn the rolls over and grill for 30 seconds more.

Serve the turkey burgers on the grilled rolls topped with lettuce, dill pickles, chutney and barbecue sauce. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).