Chef Sacco is at it again, this time she brings you the perfect Labor Day Weekend meal: turkey burgers topped with caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese and a smoky corn BBQ sauce. Just look at it, yum!
"My summers are always packed with family barbecues, grilling burgers and dogs, cracking open cold ones with good friends around the bonfire and this summer hasn’t been any different. But I come to a point in the summer where I just can’t eat another beef burger, so I decided to try something different.
I know when I see a turkey burger on a menu, I usually scowl because all I can envision is a dried out hockey puck on a bun. But with the right ingredients, you can make a juicy turkey burger that will surprise everyone. The eggplant mixed with herbs, garlic and onions is a great way to keep the meat moist as it cooks and adds ton of flavor to the burger.
The key to cooking any ground turkey is making sure you season it well BEFORE you cook it. Once it is cooked, it’s tough getting any flavor into it.
The BBQ sauce is one of my favorite recipes. It’s not your typical ketchup based BBQ sauce. It is made from scratch and it is not only good on burgers but can be used as a sauce for chicken or steaks – especially filet mignon!
These burgers are definitely a crowd pleaser!"
4 burger buns
1 lb ground turkey meat
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium onion – ½ sliced into thin strips, ½ minced
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup eggplant – ½” dice
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Thermometer – bimetallic stemmed or digital
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup tomato paste
3 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. onions, minced
2 cups water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Spice Mix for BBQ Sauce
1/3 cup honey or raw sugar
4 tsp. smoked paprika
5 tsp. dark chili powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
Cayenne pepper to taste
BBQ Sauce Cooking Instructions:
This can easily be made a day or two in advance.
Heat a small saute pan on medium heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil.
Saute garlic until golden.
Add onions and saute until soft.
Add tomato paste and spice mix, stir well.
Add apple cider vinegar and water. Stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain BBQ sauce through a fine mesh strainer or sieve using a whisk to push all the liquids through the sieve.
Discard leftover pulp.
Pour BBQ sauce back into saute pan and bring to a simmer.
Add corn kernels.
Taste for spiciness level.
Add more cayenne if desired.
Burger Cooking Instructions:
In a small non-stick saute pan, coat the bottom with olive oil and saute garlic until golden.
Add minced onions and saute until soft.
Add eggplant, saute until eggplant is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add basil, parsley, oregano and granulated garlic powder and mix well.
Remove eggplant mixture from the stove and refrigerate – you don’t want the eggplant mixture hot when you add it to the raw meat. If you have a cookie sheet, spread the eggplant mixture onto the cookie sheet leaving space between each piece. This will allow the eggplant mixture to cool rapidly in the refrigerator.
Caramelized Onions Instructions:
In the same saute pan, coat bottom with olive oil on medium/high heat.
Add the sliced onions in an even layer. You don’t want to be stirring the onions often. You want them to caramelize and the only way to do that is to let them cook on their own and stir every 4-5 minutes. Once onions are caramelized. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, add turkey, eggplant mixture, salt and pepper and mix using a fork to incorporate all the ingredients.
Form the turkey into 4 large burger patties. Using your fingertips, press down on the surface of each patty to flatten them out evenly. (You should not be pressing so hard that your fingers go through the burger. Just press down on the surface of the burger.) This will ensure they cook evenly. Poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165F.
In a large saute pan (cast-iron or non-stick) on medium/high heat, coat the bottom with olive oil. Once oil is hot, place the burger patties down and let them do their thing. If you keep trying to move the burgers, they will tear. You want the burgers to form a nice crust on each side, so be patient.
Cook for 5 minutes on each side. Temp the burger to ensure it has reached 165F or higher. If not, alternate cooking each side for an additional minute until internal temperature reaches 165F.
Once the burgers have reached 165F degrees, while still in the pan, top the burgers with sautéed onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Pour a small amount of water into the pan and throw the lid on. The steam will melt the cheese quickly and evenly.
Serve on a plate and top with BBQ sauce.