Turkey burgers get a bad rap. All it takes to make a memorable turkey burger is the right seasoning—in this case, cumin, chili powder and cilantro for a vibrant Latin flavor. Serve these burgers on a chewy roll with a slice or two of avocado and tomato and a dollop of zippy chipotle sour cream.
Yield: Serves 6-8
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chipotle sour cream:
2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped (see Notes)
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
Do ahead: Burgers and chipotle sour cream can be made one day ahead. Reheat burgers and a 325° oven or serve at room temperature.
1. In a medium bowl, combine garlic, cilantro, turkey, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix thoroughly. Form turkey mixture into eight patties. Lightly brush burgers with oil.
2. Heat grill and cook burgers on the middle of the grill, cover down, for 4-6 minutes. Turn and continue cooking for another 4-6 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, add chipotle peppers to sour cream in increments, stirring and tasting, to desired heat. Stir in salt and combine thoroughly. Slather burgers with sour cream and serve.
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce:
Chipotles are jalapeños that have been smoked and dried. Chipotles stewed in adobo sauce—tomato, paprika, onions, garlic, bay, oregano and vinegar—make for a warm and smoky condiment with a tough of sour. Cans of chipotles in adobo sauce are readily available in the Mexican section of your supermarket. Though the cans are small, a little of this stuff goes a long way, so it’s not unusual for a partial can to become a long-term resident of your refrigerator. The residual peppers can be frozen to lengthen their shelf life, but better yet, learn to use them more frequently. You can use chipotles to spike your ketchup or season your Bloody Mary. Spread them sparingly on a grilled cheese or use them as a rub for just about any grilled meat.
One of the restaurants that we’ve opened over the years was Ben’s at the Franklin Institute. It was designed to provide familiar food to the families visiting Philadelphia’s great museum of science and technology. Ben’s was not our usual sort of restaurant. We were there because we were great caterers, and the Institute wanted a single food-service operator to handle both their private catering and public restaurants. But I maintained that if we were going to do this, I wanted to do it to my standards. On opening day, I decided to work the grill, determined to show that hamburger need not be gray and over cooked. As lunch began, I turned out several score of perfectly cooked medium-rare burgers. Soon enough, an avalanche of hamburgers appeared back on the warmers, returned by upset parents who wanted food well-cooked, the way their fast-food-nation children expected. I surrendered. Sometimes, it’s okay to give people exactly what they want.