In Season: Building better burgers

You can grill a great hamburger using beef, but why stop there?

May 2, 2012 17:12
4 minute read.
Grilled hamburger

Grilled hamburger. (photo credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch / MCT)


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It is time to move beyond red meat.

Turkey burgers are generally lower in fat than beef burgers, but be careful: Not all ground turkey is created equal. Look for a label that specifies lean ground turkey breast, with no dark meat or skin added.

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And why not consider dropping the meat altogether? Make a burger out of fish – a tuna burger, for example – or take advantage of the fact that a portobello mushroom cap cooked on the grill looks a lot like a hamburger patty.

Makes 4 servings
✔ 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
✔ 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
✔ 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
✔ 3 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 4 portobello mushroom caps (about 12 cm. in diameter)
✔ 1⁄2 medium roasted red bell pepper, stemmed, skinned and seeded
✔ 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
✔ 1 pinch ground red (cayenne) pepper
✔ 4 thin slices mozzarella cheese (optional)
✔ 4 large, crusty rolls, such as kaiser rolls
✔ 4 lettuce leaves
✔ 4 slices ripe tomato

At least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before you plan to grill, prepare a marinade by combining the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, 1⁄4 cup olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl.

Place the mushrooms in a plastic bag, pour the marinade into the bag, shake to coat and let sit at room temperature. Turn the bag occasionally to saturate the surface of the mushrooms with the marinade.

Cut roasted red pepper into several chunks and place in a food processor or blender. Add mayonnaise, the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil and cayenne pepper. Process until puréed. Refrigerate until serving time.

Prepare grill for direct heat at medium temperature. Drain mushroom caps, discarding marinade. Place mushrooms, gills side down, on the grill. Grill uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, turning the mushrooms twice. Top each with a cheese slice, if using, after the second turn. Meanwhile, toast the rolls at the edge of the grill.


Place the mushrooms on the bottoms of the toasted rolls and top with lettuce, tomato and dollops of mayonnaise. Close the sandwiches with the top of the buns.

Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings
For the slaw:
✔ 2 Tbsp. wasabi powder
✔ 11⁄2 Tbsp. water
✔ 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
✔ 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
✔ 1 clove garlic, minced
✔ 2 cups finely shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
✔ Kosher salt
✔ Freshly ground black pepper For the burgers
✔ 450 gr. sushi-grade tuna, cut into 2.5-cm. pieces
✔ 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
✔ 1 clove garlic, minced
✔ 1 Tbsp. finely diced shallots
✔ 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
✔ 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (colored portion of peel)
✔ 4 hamburger buns To make the slaw: In a small bowl, mix together wasabi powder and water, forming a paste. Add mayonnaise, 1 tsp. ginger and garlic. Stir until well combined.

Place cabbage in a medium bowl. Add wasabi mayonnaise and toss until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the burgers:

Place tuna in a food processor and chop until coarsely ground.

Do not overprocess: The tuna should be minced but not puréed, similar to the texture of ground beef. Transfer the tuna to a large bowl.

Add mustard, garlic, shallots, 1 Tbsp. ginger and lemon zest. Gently stir to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. Being careful not to overwork or compact the meat too much, pat each portion into a patty about 2 cm. thick. Cover; refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high for 8 to 10 minutes with the lid closed.

Open the grill and lightly brush the grates with vegetable oil. Place the burgers on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once, until the desired temperature is reached, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, place the buns on the grill, cut-side down, and cook until lightly toasted.

To serve, place each burger on the bottom half of a bun and top with wasabi slaw. Add bun tops and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings
✔ 1 slice whole-wheat bread, crusts removed
✔ 2 Tbsp. soy milk
✔ 560 gr. ground turkey breast
✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
✔ Ground black pepper
✔ 2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
✔ 1⁄4 cup minced fresh basil
✔ Salt
✔ 3 whole-wheat English muffins, split and toasted

Tear bread into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour soy milk over bread, stir to coat well and allow to stand 10 minutes, stirring and mashing bread frequently until the mixture is almost smooth. Add ground turkey, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and 1⁄4 tsp. pepper.

Mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 6 patties. Mix together tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to stand at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to mediumhigh or allow coals to burn down. Lightly oil grill grate or spray with nonstick spray.

Grill patties about 5 to 6 minutes per side or until lightly browned and internal temperatures registers 73º on a meat thermometer. Place one patty on each muffin half. Spoon tomato mixture generously over the top of each patty.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch / MCT

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