The Genius Secret to Juicy Turkey Burgers (Chicken and Pork Burgers, Too)

The Genius Secret to Juicy Turkey Burgers (Chicken and Pork Burgers, Too)


Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

Photo by Ty Mecham

Who among us hasn’t been burned by a dry turkey burger before? (Or chicken, or pork, or even beef, that time whoever was in charge of shopping went down a dark path and bought the 98% lean mix.) I had an especially dismal one just recently at the burger joint across the street from my apartment. Fool me, I don’t know, a hundred times?

But I never gave up hope. And I finally found a sure thing for juicy, unreasonably good lean-meated burgers in Niloufer Ichaporia King’s 2007 James Beard Award-winning cookbook My Bombay Kitchen, a memoir and archive of the recipes and techniques from her heritage in the Parsi community in India.

Photo by Ty Mecham

Lean meat, as a rule, needs help—whether that’s leaning on richer ingredients or dry-brining or just a really good marinade. Or, as King does here, inspired by traditional Parsi kebabs, by jamming that meat full of moisture (and flavor) with a mess of herbs, alliums, ginger, and chiles.

There is a greater proportion of raw vegetable matter here than I’d ever have thought wise to mix into a burger, for fear of lingering chunks of raw ginger, onion, and chile. But every last bit has just enough time to soften and release its bright, herby, spicy vapors and juices into the burgers as they sizzle, fixing both of the problems meat lacking in fat tends to have: severe deficits in flavor and moisture.

Photo by Ty Mecham

In related perks, this means that you don’t have to stress as much about seasoning the meat mix just right, or stopping the second the burger reaches doneness. You have more than enough buffer.

For the rest of dinner, King recommends a simple baked potato and a salad with avocado. Alice Medrich, longtime Food52 columnist and another genius in our midst, who sent me this recipe, likes to involve raita or King’s spicy carrot salad, also from My Bombay Kitchen. Or you could of course put it on a bun, and it will erase the memory of every sad turkey burger you’ve met.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what’s so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to cookbook author and award-winning Food52 columnist Alice Medrich for this one!

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