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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Turkey Burgers

I come from a family of food fanatics.  My dad has always been the designated gourmet cook of the family while my mom covered most of the baking (her Christmas toffee is still the best I've ever had) and both involved my sister and I in the kitchen at a very young age.  Most of my childhood was spent on a wooden step-stool so I could reach all the deliciously gooey, messy concoctions created on adult-level counters. I loved to help my family cook- still do.  The tradition continued after college when I moved in with my grandma and Aunt Dar for a summer, where I first heard about peanut butter burgers.

 (A blast from the past- see, I told you I liked to cook at an early age.  And I STILL have those farm animal mugs in the background too- thanks Mom!)

 Peanut butter?  On a burger? Intrigued? I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive when I first heard of them too.  And as you go through the rest of the ingredients, trust me... it gets weirder.  But the simple fact remains, that for a food junkie like me, sometimes conflicting flavors compliment each other so well that they produce a whole NEW flavor that wows us and opens our culinary minds to new possibilities and adventures in the kitchen.  These burgers were a turning point for me, and I have my Aunt Dar to thank for it.  I've altered the recipe quite a bit from the original- in fact, I've tried many different variations over the years....but I think I've finally settled on THE ONE.  There's room in this recipe for some individual variations on the meat- if you like it spicier, add a little more pepper (or a splash of Sriracha!), or if you prefer a more traditional meat-only patty you can always leave out the onion and water chestnuts.  Personally, I love the freshness and crunch that those ingredients offer, but to each his own.  I encourage picky eaters to give it a chance- it just might take your taste buds to a whole new level.

Peanut Butter Turkey Burgers
adapted from the original recipe by Darless Roe

1 lb ground turkey breast
1 glug of soy sauce
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small can water chestnuts, finely diced
1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 can pineapple rings, drained (save the juice!)
1 small can whole green ortega chilies
1/2 red onion
baby bok choy leaves with the stems removed (cabbage leaves will work too)

unsweetened pineapple juice (from can)
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
1Tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar

4 ciabatta rolls
peanut butter (chunky is best)
olive oil

Drain pineapple juice into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, and cook about 7-10 minutes, until the juice has thickened slightly.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, and simmer another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat and set aside.  The glaze will thicken as it cools.

In a large bowl, mix together all the patty ingredients until evenly incorporated (I find bare hands work best).  Form into thin patties about as big as the ciabatta rolls. Since the rolls tend to usually be quite large, try to keep the patties as thin as possible- they will gain thickness as they cook. Grill, or (if you are sadly without a grill, like me) cook in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat until the center of the patty feels pretty firm- you never want to under-cook poultry!  After the first flip, spoon some of the glaze over the patty for flavor.  If you're not familiar with cooking meat, you can make a tiiiiny slit in the top with your knife to check, but it generally, the firmer it is, the closer it is to well done and cooked through.  Remove from heat, transfer to a plate and allow the meat to rest for a few minutes- if you cut it too soon all the glorious yummy juices will run out and you will have a sad, dry burger.

In a small skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and heat on med-high.  When the oil is hot, add onions and saute until slightly softened and browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.  Return skillet to heat and add pineapple rings and ortega chilies, cooking about 2 minutes on each side, until slightly browned.  Remove from heat.

Cut the ciabatta rolls in half, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in toaster oven or broiler.  When toasted to preferred level of crispiness, spread both sides evenly with peanut butter (don't use too much, or you may have trouble swallowing your burger).  Place the patty on the bottom roll and top with grilled pineapple, onion, ortega chilies.  Take a few spoonfuls of the glaze and drizzle over the top.  Complete with fresh bok choy leaves and top bun and enjoy.

Make sure you have plenty of napkins nearby!  These are messy burgers....but oh so good.

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