Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sage and Onion Turkey Burgers

Summer is grilling season, and I offer you three solid reasons why these Sage and Onion Turkey Burgers should be your next choice while planning a grill-out.  First and most important: taste! Diced onion and pepper add essential flavor to the fresh ground meat, which is enhanced by subtle savory hints of sage and thyme, stirring up a pang of nostalgia for Thanksgiving dinner. Second, the naturally high protein, low fat turkey meat (lean white, in this case) is a much healthier alternative to a typical beef burger. By forming your own patties, you also get to eliminate the main unhealthful attribute of the store-bought versions: tons of added sodium. Lastly, local turkey meat has a low environmental impact.  Read more below to learn how you can become a conscientious carnivore!

Sage and Onion Turkey Burgers (recipe from American Medical Association's Family Health Cookbook)
Yield: 6 Sandwiches
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey*
2/3 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs, from about 1 1/2 slices of bread
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped celery or green pepper
1 egg white
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried summer savory optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns plus sliced tomato, lettuce, onion, pickle, reduced-fat cheddar cheese for garnish

1. Prepare a medium-hot barbecue fire, or preheat a gas grill or broiler.
2. In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to mix together the turkey, bread crumbs, onion, celery, egg white, sage, thyme, savory, salt and pepper. Form into 6 patties, each about 1/2 inch thick.
3. Grill or broil the burgers, turning once carefully with a spatula, until browned on both sides and white throughout, about 10 minutes total. Place the buns, cut sides down, at the edge of the grill to toast lightly, about 1 minute.
4. Serve the burgers on the toasted buns, with desires toppings.

 *I got my ground turkey from DiPaola Turkey Farm, a second generation family farm in New Jersey that raises free-range, antibiotic-free turkeys fed on a mix of corn and soy. The meat is sold in 16 oz containers for $8 each, enough for about 5-6 burgers, an appropriate quantity for the recipe that is not likely to leave excess.  Compare that to a whole frozen turkey...did you know that 20% of all edible meat is thrown in the trash, with turkey in the lead for amount of meat likely to be thrown out by a consumer at 31%?  Check out the Environmental Working Group's Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health, a succinct, informative guide challenging its readers to "reduce your impact. improve your health." Emphasizing that not all meat is created equal- lamb and beef have the greatest environmental impact- EWG encourages carnivores to "eat smart."  When shopping for meat, they offer a few tips:
Look For:
  • Grass fed or pasture-raised meat
  • Lean cuts
  • No antibiotics or hormones
  • Certified Organic
  • Certified Humane
  • Local (DiPaola  "turkeys are raised on the property from birth to death, with all of the processing done on-site")
  • Unprocessed, nitrate-free and low sodium

"Happy Turkeys, Friendly People." Web log post. What Is Fresh. Web. 19 July 2011. <>.
"Report-2011 Meat Eaters Guide." Environmental Working Group. Web. 19 July 2011. <>.

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