Turkey and Bacon Burger with Hickory Mayonnaise

Declare independence from basic burgers this summer.

Thoughts of summer picnics and barbecues always seem to conjure up classic images in my head of red-and-white checkered tablecloths topped with those red and yellow plastic ketchup and mustard dispensers with the long pointy tips, potato salad, lemonade—and, of course, grilling burgers. Do I see too many commercials showing kids giggling while running through sprinklers, Grandpa sipping a tall glass of lemonade on an old-fashioned porch, or guys surrounded by a cloud of smoke while happily grilling and chatting with friends and family? Perhaps. But they do a good job of making us think fondly of that “good old summertime,” don’t they?

Whether you’re planning a get-together for the Fourth of July or looking for something to shake up the notion of classic burgers, this turkey and bacon burger by meat expert Bruce Aidells, who wrote the book on meat (literally, he’s the author of The Complete Meat Cookbook, among others) is a great change of pace. The Apple Pan was the local burger joint in the West Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up, and this recipe was inspired by the restaurant’s hickory burger. He substituted ground turkey flecked with bacon for ground beef, and instead of cheese on top, stuffed the burger with cheese. (These burgers can be made up to four hours ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to fire up the grill.)

Now grab a tall glass of lemonade, a checkered tablecloth, get those kids giggling in the sprinkler and fire up the grill!

Cheese-Stuffed Turkey and Bacon Burgers with Hickory Mayonnaise

Serves 4

Hickory mayonnaise:
½ c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. tablespoon sweet pickle relish
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. hickory-flavored barbecue sauce

4 oz. smoked bacon, diced
1¼ lbs. ground turkey
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
1½ c. freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ c. finely chopped green onion
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

4 sesame buns, split and toasted
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Thinly sliced sweet onion, red or yellow
Dill pickle slices
Mexican pork and chicken burgers
Iceberg lettuce leaves

To make hickory mayonnaise, combine ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place bacon in bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to chop. Add to a mixing bowl along with ground turkey, salt, pepper, and barbecue sauce. Use your hands to lightly blend mixture. Form into 8 equal patties, each about ½ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Set aside.

Combine cheese, green onions, and mustard in another bowl. Place equal amounts of cheese mixture in centers of 4 of the patties. Place remaining patties over cheese. Crimp edges to seal in cheese. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to grill.

Preheat grill to medium. Place burgers on grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. (Burgers are done when cheese just begins to melt; cut a nick in center of top and peer inside to check.)

Spread hickory mayonnaise over insides of buns. Place a burger on bottom half and place tomato, onion, pickle slices, and a lettuce leaf on top. Top with other half of bun and serve.

Nutrition info (per serving) Cheese-Stuffed Turkey and Bacon Burgers
CALORIES 959 (624 from fat); FAT 69g (sat. 24g); CHOL 177mg; SODIUM 1649mg; CARB 33g; FIBER 2g; PROTEIN 49g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.