Wednesday, June 4, 2008

(Another) Alternaburger

Please don't revoke my citizenship, but I'm not much of a hamburger person. Sure, I get their appeal. While no dietitian would agree, they are a remarkably balanced food, rolling all the things we crave into a packet easily maneuvered with just a hand and a mouth.

But as a kid, I preferred Chicken McNuggets (as I've mentioned), and these days, given the choice, I always go with a grilled something-or-other sandwich, or a salad full of crumbly goat cheese, interesting greens, and crunchy bits 'n bobs, or, when the opportunity presents itself, a hunk of barbecued meat, dripping with sauce.

But there are a exceptions. Take the beef out of it, add some flavah-flave, and I'm down with the burger. Case in point: the "working girl's tuna burger," inspired by the Union Square Cafe Cookbook. And now, a new one to add to my (admittedly very girly) burger repertoire, inspired by one of the first burgers every recorded, back when it was still know as the Hamburg Steak.

The recipe is by Sarah Tyson Rorer in Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book (1902). Without saying so explicitly, she encourages the intrepid cook to disguise ground meat as steak. She forms the patties into steak shapes and serve it sans bun, as you might a T-bone: "dust with salt, put a little butter on top of each and send at once to the table; or they may have poured over them tomato sauce, or you may serve them with brown or pepper sauce."

I decided that I, too, would forgo the bun – in deference both to Mrs. Rorer and the modern dictum that limited white bread is not a bad thing. But if you're going to drop the carbs, you've got to add toppings that make you forget what you're missing. Instead of Mrs. Rorer's tomato sauce, I created a relish that would be a perfect foil for my favorite condiment, feta cheese, and would incorporate some incredibly fresh and fragrant mint grown in my friend’s suburban greenhouse. Feta and mint? I dare you not to think of Greece. I ran with the theme, adding kalamata olives, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and green onions, all quickly cooked in a bit of olive oil.

The result was a healthy, fast Wednesday meal for two that sang of the Mediterranean. The relish was really quite fantastic and would also be lovely on a bit of grilled fish or chicken, pasta, bruschetta – hell, even an all-beef patty between two buns.

Turkey Burgers with Olive and Mint Relish

With such flavorful toppings, I don't think this burger needs a bun. But add one if you'd like, or maybe serve atop a slice of country bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil and lightly toasted.

For the burgers:
1/2 pound ground turkey meat
2 tablespoons minced white onion
Big pinch of Kosher salt
A couple good cranks of freshly ground black pepper

For the relish:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Roma tomato, finely diced
2 large green onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
Big pinch of Kosher salt
A couple good cranks of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 - 1/3 cup crumbled feta

  1. Preheat the broiler and arrange a broiler pan about 2 inches from the heat. Combine all the turkey burger ingredients, mix well, and form into two patties about 3 inches across. Spray the broiler pan with cooking spray. Place the patties on the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side.
  2. While the burgers cook, make the relish. In a skillet, over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until just beginning to color. Add all other relish ingredients. Saute until the burgers are fully cooked.
  3. Place the burgers on servings plates. Top each with half the relish and half the feta and put back under the broiler. Cook until the feta just begins to brown. Carefully remove and serve.

Serves two.

1 comment:

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