friends, i don’t know why i kept this recipe from you for so long. actually, scratch that, i do know why: for the longest time, when i would make these turkey burgers, they would fall apart. not a deal breaker for us, but not something i felt was ready for sharing here. y’all are busy; you don’t have time to be chasing bits of turkey burger all over your plate because they won’t stay in the bun!
(anyone who has ever made any kind of anything that they wanted to hold together better – a veggie burger, meatloaf, a cookie – already knows what’s coming…)
so, one day, thinking of, oh, every other recipe out there for burgers/cookies/anything that you want to hold itself together, i wondered if perhaps adding an egg wouldn’t help improve the structural integrity of these tasty, crumbly burgers. and lo! it worked perfectly.
now we have the same delicious, slightly-spicy-but-not-overwhelmingly-fiery turkey burgers… that actually hold a burger shape! now, i haven’t tested flipping these 3 feet up in the air and flinging them onto an open grill, but if you cook them in an oiled skillet and just turn them over normally, you should be good to go.
that said, i tend to cook half of the turkey as burgers and half of it as crumbled taco meat and even with the egg added to the whole batch, the turkey is still totally capable of crumbling and behaving like normal taco filling. it’s an egg, not cement powder, after all.
since there are only 2 of us and the recipe calls for a pound of ground turkey, i like to have a few tricks up my sleeve to use all of the meat without eating the same thing for days on end. (though i should mention, the burgers freeze well. we enjoyed 2 of them just the other night when we got home after driving back from friends a few states away.)
my favorite trick, as i mentioned, is to form 4 burgers and then cook the rest of the turkey as crumbles for tacos. the burgers get served with sliced red cabbage (i like this better than lettuce because it’s really crunchy and keeps for a long time in the fridge), sliced red onion, perhaps some cheddar, and our respective favorite condiments of the moment.
the tacos, to be honest, get a similar treatment, but in tortillas instead of buns, so they’re waaaay different. (hey, whatever helps us use up leftovers, right?) avocado is always a good idea (unless you’re allergic). chopped tomatoes are nice (unless you hate them). a bit of salsa really cements that you are eating something totally different. oooor tastes good and variety is overrated; either way, really.
- 1 pound (16 oz. / 454 g.) ground turkey (more fat = more turkey flavor – up to you whether that’s good or bad)
- 1 large egg
- (2) 4 oz. (113 g.) cans of diced green chilies (i usually get the mild ones and the one time i didn’t, i definitely noticed a difference!)
- ½ - 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (adjust quantity to your heat preference)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and thin stems, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely diced (smaller pieces help the burgers hold together)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- combine everything except the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and use a fork to stir/mash together until evenly combined. use your hands to form into hockey puck shape and size burgers (about 2 oz. / 57 g.) – big burgers are more prone to falling apart. if you are forming all of the meat into burgers, you should get 8. if you are cooking a portion of the meat for tacos, keep the burgers the same size for structural reasons.
- heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. when hot, add the burgers, 4 at a time (or fewer, if that seems crowded in your pan). cook until the bottom is medium brown as you don’t want to flip the burgers back and forth repeatedly since this would toughen them. flip and cook until the other side is medium brown. use a meat thermometer to confirm the centers of the burgers have reached 165° F or peek at the center and make sure there’s no pink. each batch of the burgers should cook in under 10 minutes total.
- repeat with remaining burgers or, for tacos, add the remaining meat to pan and brown, using a spatula to crumble the meat as necessary.
- serve burgers or taco meat hot, with your favorite accompaniments. leftovers keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer for longer term storage. the burgers reheat well in a covered skillet (the lid traps steam to help the centers heat up before the outsides burn).