Truly Tasty Turkey and Cannellini Bean Burgers

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Hello juicy, full flavored turkey burgers!

Goodbye dry, bland, tasteless, boring, no texture meat puck on a plate!  This burger is so good that you can eat it PLAIN, without any condiments at all if you’re that type of person.  OR you can top it with whatever you would like.  Bacon, avocado, mayo, red peppers, onions, cheese and mushrooms, whatever your favorite burger toppings are.

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Some of the best beef burgers have a few things going for them:

1)  Fat, which is where the flavor comes from.

2)  A crispy, charred exterior with a juicy interior.

3) A crumb like texture to the grind of the meat, which gives it a satisfying bite.

Most turkey burgers lack:

1)  Fat, because turkey is low fat.  (Think 20% fat for a beef burger vs about 2% fat for a turkey burger)

2)  A crispy, charred exterior because it’s hard to brown something with no fat to it, cook the inside fully, and not have it dry.  It’s just difficult.  It’s difficult to do that with a beef burger, which is why they are usually served still pink in the inside.  You can’t have pink inside poultry burgers.  They have to be fully cooked.

3)  Unless you’re grinding it yourself, most ground turkey you purchase is reduced to a level that resembles a mousse or pate more than it resembles a ground meat.  This results in a very unburger like texture for something called a burger.

There’s actually a bit of a science behind a good burger, and here is what’s the most interesting of all.  The SMELL OF THE BURGER IS WHAT TRIGGERS YOUR MOUTH TO SALIVATE.  

So, it’s not so much the burger itself that is juicy, but your mouth that is juicy.

True!  Scientists have actually studied this.  Burgers with equal amounts of moisture, but cooked differently resulted in either a “drier” or “wetter” mouth.  And what was it about the smell that triggered the brain to start the mouth salivating?  Well, char (like on a barbecue or from a griddle), and scented fat molecules floating through the air and into your nose like fat wrapped flavor gifts.  As the tongue hit the outside charred parts, the mouth was already salivating.  Super interesting.

So how could I get a decent turkey burger with this information?

1)  Season the meat with roasted garlic, bouillon, dried onion flakes, and liquid smoke.  Each of these carries a happy, and heady aroma on their own.  You MUST use oil in the pan or these will stick.  Avocado oil was the perfect choice.  It has a fairly high smoking point, and you don’t need a lot of it.  Plus, it’s really healthy for you, and I’ve found that foods cooked in it tend to retain their moisture.

2) Achieve as close as possible to a charred exterior on the burger by having irregular edges, and cooking them in a cast iron skillet.  Finish them off in the oven to make sure the inside was cooked.

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3) Use cannellini (or white) beans to add texture and bite.  These also aid in the moisture department.  Since turkey and white beans are a great match in several recipes, I didn’t think twice about using them.

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The turkey and bean mixture are combined with a rubber scraper so it doesn’t get packed down and dense.  You want those little air pockets if possible.  They’ll still compact when formed into patties, but they wont be horribly dense and textureless.

I’m not sure how they’ll turn out on the grill, but if one of you tries it, let me know!

Truly Tasty Turkey and Cannellini Bean Burgers

Preheat oven to 400F or 200C

1 lb ground turkey

2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cube bouillon

1 T dried onion flakes

1 clove roasted garlic

1/2 t liquid smoke

*note* – it’s better to use a low or no salt bouillon for this dish so you can control the salt amount.  Do not add any salt if you are using a regular bouillon. Use your hands to crush the cube into a powder.

Combine beans, onion flakes, garlic, and bouillon in a food processor.  Pulse repeatedly until everything is broken down, but try not to make it a hummus like paste.

Use a large bowl to mix the turkey, bean mixture, and the 1/2 t liquid smoke.  Form into patties with nooks and crannies.  The beans act as a binder, just like fat would in a regular burger.  You don’t need to pack them tightly to make sure they hold together.  These do not reduce in size horribly, so make them about the size of, or a little bit larger than the bun you are using.

Heat up a cast iron pan over med, or med low heat.  Add about 2 T avocado oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Keep the bottle of oil to the side and add more as needed.

Cook without turning for about 4 minutes or so.  The time is best judged by the look of the burger, rather than the timer.  When the burger is turning color about 1/2 way up, carefully flip to the other side.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the color on the new side has just caught up with the top of the burger.

Your burger isn’t fully cooked yet, but you’ll want to take it off the stove top and transfer it to the oven to finish.

Transfer entire pan to the top shelf of the oven and continue cooking for at least 5 minutes.  You should be able to see some juicy goodness starting to ooze out of the tops or sides of the burgers. If it’s real red, leave the burgers in for another 2-3 minutes.  If they are just starting to run clear, it’s the perfect time to pull them out.  They will continue to cook as you get them on the bun and put the toppings on.  Don’t worry if they cooked really quickly in the oven and the juices oozing out of the top look a little oily and not clear.  That just means they already finished.  They will still taste great, and not be too dry at all.

Enjoy! (I ate 2 1/2 of these guys while writing this post.  And I may or may not have snipped the edge off of a 3rd one.  They are that tasty!)

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