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How-To

Burger Revolution

Forget buns and ketchup--think beef, turkey, tuna, and veggie burgers with bold flavors and unexpected ingredients

Fine Cooking Issue 94
Photos: Scott Phillips
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In recent years, burgers have evolved from fast food fixes to high-end entrées. Top chefs are adding exotic ingredients of all kinds to their burgers—foie gras, braised short ribs, beef cheeks, even truffles. I’m sure these gussied-up versions are delicious, but I confess to liking mine simpler. In fact, there are times when a burger is so flavorful, so juicy, and so good on its own—or served with a savory sauce—that I find even the bun unnecessary. You might call the idea revolutionary, but give these burgers a try and I bet you’ll agree.

What’s great about these burgers is that each one—beef, turkey, fresh tuna, and black bean (for my vegetarian friends)—has its own flavor inspiration. I stuff my beef burger with creamy blue cheese and season the black bean burger with Mexican flavors like poblano chile and ground cumin. Then I top them with zesty sauces, like a Thai-style dipping sauce with lime juice and spicy chiles for the fresh tuna burger and a cool cucumber and yogurt sauce for the turkey burger.

I can’t insist that you eat your burger without a bun, so if you want to, go ahead and serve them on buns, but trust me: These are tasty enough to stand on their own.

Tip for Better Burgers

Shop right

  • For superior burgers, the old axiom that “fat is flavor” really applies. The ground meat, be it beef or turkey, needs the right proportion of fat to keep the burgers juicy but not greasy. For beef burgers, go with ground chuck (80% to 85% lean).
  • For turkey burgers, ground turkey that has both light and dark meat is best (93% lean). Seek out a butcher who will grind your meat to order, because the fresher the meat, the better the burger.

Take it easy

  • The more you handle ground meat, the tougher your burgers will be, so be gentle.
  • Mix in seasonings with a light hand, and gently but firmly form the patties.
  • Wetting your hands helps the meat come together quickly and keeps your hands from getting sticky.
  • When you cook the burgers, flip them only once and never press down on the meat with your spatula. You want to keep the flavorful juices inside the burgers, not spilled out onto the grill or in your skillet.
Stuffed Blue Cheese Burgers with Red-Wine Pan Sauce

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