Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tom Turkey Goes to Thailand

Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut Sauce

The first time I had a barbecue at my own place, I knew that our guests would run the gamut from true carnivores to virtual vegans. Hamburgers and Gardenburgers cover the extreme ends of that spectrum, but in the middle you typically find that most maligned of patties: the turkey burger.

Subject a lean meat like turkey to your average grill and you get a nearly inedible disk of dessicated poultry. The solution for turkey burgers is similar to the one with meatloaf; you need to put other things in it to keep the moisture in and lighten it up. I came up with this Thai-inspired mix of Asian vegetables to add to your ground turkey, which hold up quite well. I no longer have a grill, but these are also excellent when pan-cooked. The peanut sauce also gives it a nice kick. Apparently, someone agreed- at the end of that barbecue, there were plenty of hamburgers left over, but every single turkey burger had been devoured.

Thai Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey
1 8 oz can bamboo shoots, minced
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, minced
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, minced
2 eggs (minus 1 yolk)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Thai seasoning (try Penzey's Satay Seasoning)
1 tsp black sesame seeds (optional)

Whirl the bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms in a food processor (or mince very small), then add to the turkey. Add the eggs, bread crumbs and seasonings. Mix well with your hands until everything is thoroughly incorporated. If the mix seems too wet, add more bread crumbs until it reaches a consistency where you can form it into patties. Throw them on the grill or into a pan and cook just until firm.

Thai Peanut Sauce

2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp sesame paste (optional)
1 tsp Thai seasoning (try Penzey's Bangkok Blend)
Water to achieve proper consistency

Mix all of these ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 20 seconds. Stir ingredients together vigorously. Too thin? Add peanut butter. Too thick? Add a little water at a time to create a thick (but not paste-like) sauce for your burgers.

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