Lately I’ve been making myself a lot of turkey burgers, and I think that I’ve come up with a pretty reliable and relatively simple recipe that goes well up against any restaurant-style one (and you only need 1 pan for all of it). I also think that turkey burgers really and truly can be just as good as beef burgers (and if you’re immediately thinking “Well, he’s wrong,” then you’ve watched too much Parks and Recreation). So, here goes:
Minimal-Frills Turkey Burgers:
1/2 lb. ground turkey (I prefer 93% lean)
1 deli pickle (I prefer half-sour)
1/4 big onion (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
2 white-bread buns
2 tablespoons oil (peanut, olive, grapeseed—whatever)
2 slices (or 1 handful if shredded) cheese (I use cheddar)
1 splash of balsamic vinegar
Plenty of ketchup
Put the heat on medium and put the oil in the pan. Finely chop the onion.
Separate the meat into 2 patties. Flatten them out with the heels of your hands so that they are about 1/2” thick at the rim—and even thinner than that in the middle. You want the shape to be like a less exaggerated version of a red blood cell, basically.
When the pan is hot (but the oil is not smoking at all), put the patties into the pan. Wash hands thoroughly. Then put the chopped onions into the pan. If the oil tends to collect in a certain part of the pan because your heating element isn’t quite level, put it in that spot.
Let patties and onions cook for about 3 minutes, or until the middle of the patties have accumulated a significant amount of pinkish fluid. During this period, add the splash of balsamic to the onion.
Flip burgers. Crowd the onions around the burgers so they all share heat and cook together, preferably in the spot where the oil collects. Let it be for another 2 minutes. While waiting, slice pickle into thin chips and put them on the inner face of the top bun. Add cheese on top of the pickles.
Take patties and put them on the top buns, right onto the cheese. Wait another 15 seconds for onions to burn off any loose moisture, then top burger patties with onions, half on each.
Put bottom bun on the top of the whole thing. Wait to flip it over until just before eating. Add ketchup on side or directly on to burger (I prefer on the side).
Feel free to use a little less onion, but I love onions so that’s how I make them. For one person, these burgers will fill you up comfortably even if you’re very hungry. The reason for the odd starting patty shape is that with homemade burgers, they always, always end up too fat in the middle and too small relative to the bun if they looked “normal” when they’re uncooked. If you use this alternate way, they’ll actually end up looking normal after they’re done.