Recipe of the Month: Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Burgers

When I was presented this recipe, my first thought was, “Katie Grinnell really wants to see me blow myself up in the kitchen.”  Any time I see something stuffed with something else, it just screams, “requires much effort and culinary talent”, and reeks of failure.  Alas, this is what I took this project on for, to expand my horizons in the kitchen and venture into cooking styles and aisles of the grocery store that I have not encountered before.

Here were the lessons I learned at the grocery store this time: scallions and green onions are the same thing (at least this is what I have convinced myself of), foccacia bread is not easy to find, even in the bread aisle under “specialty breads”…foccacia has now been filed under “extra-special” in my head.  Last but not least, lemon zest is not a spice, but just the grated skin.  I guess “zest” is just peppier sounding than “scraped lemon peel”.  This last one is probably common knowledge, but I will be the first to admit that I think there is a lot of “common knowledge” that isn’t so common.

After not finding foccacia bread in either the bread aisle or the bakery section, I opted for ciabatta bread, also grabbing Portobello mushrooms for myself before heading off to try my luck at this concoction.

I’m getting smarter, because before even turning a burner on, I set Paul to work chopping everything.  I’m sure I have stated it before that he is just far more talented at chopping, dicing, and mincing than I am. Once everything is chopped, the marinara pretty much takes care of itself for a while, which gives you enough time to put the turkey burgers together… and this is when things jump a few levels on the difficulty scale.

The recipe says to “gently combine, without overmixing, until evenly incorporated”.  How am I supposed to tell when I have crossed the line into “overmixed”?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say mix until your gut or your fingers tell you to stop… unless you know how to avoid this myth of overmixing.

Taking my self-proclaimed, not overmixed meat mixture, I did my best to form 8 patties, but turkey is harder to form than regular hamburger usually is, so maintaining structural integrity is tricky.  You then need to carefully place a little pile of mozzarella on top of one patty, then place another patty on top of that, “crimping the edges” to close the cheese inside between the 2.  This step will have a great effect on your presentation, so take your time if that is important to you.  As you can see, I did not take my time to “crimp” and dazzle my fellow diner with a great presentation (sorry honey).

Plopping the burgers in to the pan, I decided I could now slice in half and toast the ciabatta bread.  On the second one I slipped and drove the end of the steak knife right into my palm.  I realize my 3 mistakes here: 1. I was using a steak knife.  Maybe when I am a real adult I will have proper knives for their proper uses.  2.  The direction in which I was cutting, and 3.  I was trying to slice something in the first place.

Bleeding stopped, I had Paul slice the rest of the ciabatta bread and I started in on my Portobellos.  Not being able to mix these the way I mixed the turkey with the other ingredients, I simply heated some oil in a pan, dashed all the spices and Worcestershire sauce onto each side and let them cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side.

All meats and non-meats appearing cooked, I spooned the sauce onto the bottoms of the ciabatta rolls (just now realizing while going back over the recipe that I never put the sauce into the food processor, so we had very chunky marinara… sorry again honey).

I then place the burger/mushroom on that, covered with more chunky-marinara, and sprinkled with more cheese.  The picture shows no “top” bun, so that is how we did ours too.  This is a great way to save calories, not to mention the fact that this is way too messy to be eaten like a normal burger.

After a little over a half hour of cooking, Paul and I grew very silent during the 7 minutes it took us to inhale these.  They were SO good, so good in fact that the only sound I heard during our meal was Paul muttering terms of endearment and professions of love to his rapidly disappearing meal.  While cleaning up, he even bid a tender farewell to the leftovers that he assured he would be very excited to see for lunch the next day… and then he finished what I had left on my plate.

The Portobellos turned out very well and went with this recipe perfectly.  Had I had more time, I would have liked to try a black bean burger option, but I liked that the mushroom was just enough to complement and not take away from the marinara.

The ciabatta bread worked great, and I think as long as you are using a denser bread, a variety of them should work.  A regular hamburger bun would probably get too soggy with this sauce.

All in all, an easier recipe than I thought it was going to be, and a crowd pleaser, at least with my “crowd”, so enjoy it!  Good luck with the presentation and any chopping or slicing you do.

You can view the entire recipe at: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mozzarella_stuffed_turkey_burgers.html .

Next month it will be grilled asparagus and Portobello mushroom salad!

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