Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lentil Turkey Burgers

Burgers are so versatile and low-maintenance that its worth experimenting with new ingredients.  Get as crazy as you want.*

While I wouldn't describe this burger as crazy at all, it certainly combines multiple "alternative" burger genres - turkey, lentil, and veggie all rolled into one.  The recipe follows a pretty simple burger formula I rely on: a mix of a low-fat animal protein with a vegetarian protein and as many finely diced vegetables as possible.  That means any bean, legume, or heartier vegetable will work great.  I've personally developed a physical aversion to quinoa after an overdose during its peak of popularity in late 2011, but if you're still a healthy user or you have it out for Bolivian farmers, then by all means.

There are countless "healthy" burger recipes out there, but one thing I always watch out for is filler.  While this recipe does call for a small amount of bread crumbs and an egg, you could most likely get away without it if you really wanted to keep it as lean as possible. 

Burger Mix (makes 5 patties):
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup french lentils
  • 1 cup stock or water
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 2 finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp. coriander 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. pepper
Other Ingredients:
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into fries 
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Any additional burger condiments

Bring the lentils, stock, 2 whole cloves of garlic, and a bay leaf to a boil in a small pot.  Turn heat down to a simmer and let cook, covered, for about 15 minutes or until soft.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees for the fries and slowly warm up a pan on the stove top over medium-low heat.   Cut up the sweet potato, toss in about 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread evenly over a lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, turning mid-way.  Same process as in the Grilled Chicken and Veggies post.
While the fries bake, melt 1 tbsp. butter in the frying pan and add the sliced onion once it is melted.  Salt well and allow to slowly cook and caramelize, only stirring occasionally.
While your sides and toppings cook, prep the remaining vegetables, using an electric chopper if you please.  Your lentils should be about ready.  When they are, drain them and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool (until they cool enough to mix with the turkey and egg without cooking them).
Combine the turkey, lentils, vegetables, garlic, parsley, and seasoning to make patties.  Cook in a frying or grill pan on the stove top (no need to do so in oil).
 When all your burgers, fries, and onions are ready, serve together with or without a bun.
 *As I'm sure is the case with all cities, there are many arguments about "best _________s in Chicago."  I'm positive that Chicago Magazine has made a top 100 list of everything with which you could fill that blank.  Anyways, call me cliche, but Kuma's Corner has the best burger in Chicago.  I recommend ordering the Lair of the Minotaur.  Don't skip out on their fried calamari, and be sure to eat the slices of lemon and sprigs of rosemary, too.  I haven't been in a few years now, but if things haven't changed (and you still haven't been (!?!)) just be prepared to wait hours and savor every bite.


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