My family likes turkey; we just don’t love turkey.
We like it enough to celebrate it on Thanksgiving, but not enough to eat it again on Christmas. I know people who roast turkey breasts all year long and I applaud them. Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein, no doubt about it. It’s just not my personal favorite, with one exception — ground turkey.
Ground turkey makes a perfectly acceptable substitute for ground beef in a number of dishes. Meatballs, tacos, meatloaf, even sloppy Joes are all ripe for a turkey takeover. That’s because there are usually enough other flavors in the mix to compensate for the fact that the turkey itself doesn’t have a ton of flavor.
So I reach for ground turkey often when I’m trying to lower the fat and cholesterol in an otherwise flavorful dish. What I don’t typically do is reach for it when I’m craving a serious burger. Not that it can’t be a nice change of pace, but burgers are usually all about the beef, and turkey is simply not beef.
Unless of course, you find a burger recipe that’s so good, with so many other flavors involved, that the neutrality of turkey is actually better than beef. Let me introduce you to my one of my favorites — Thai Turkey Burger with Sweet and Sour Cucumbers and Red Curry Mayo.
This recipe seems to fly in the face of the “Keep it simple” philosophy espoused by many burger fanatics. True, it has a number of different elements, but each one is quick and easy. So while the flavor isn’t simple, making the dish certainly is.
I like to start by making the mayo first because then it can sit, allowing its flavors to marry as you put together the rest of the burger. I use a light mayo as the base and add lime zest, lime juice and a not-so-secret ingredient, red curry paste. This Thai pantry staple can be found in the ethnic section of almost any grocery store.
The burger itself is packed with such powerhouse ingredients as lime, cilantro, mint and my personal favorite, peanuts. If a peanut allergy is an issue in your family, simply leave them out.
But what puts this burger truly over the top are the cucumbers. Marinated briefly in a little rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt, this crunchy, sweet-and-sour take on a pickle is a surprising and welcome change from the standard lettuce and tomato garnish. Combined with the curried mayo and the flavor-packed turkey, this burger is so good you won’t even miss the beef.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.