Turkey, Bacon and Cheddar Burgers Recipe

Bring on grilling season with flavorful turkey burgers complete with smoky bacon and a special sauce
Turkey, Bacon and Cheddar Burger

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

With the warm weather comes that urge to fire up the backyard grill. For a different take on a burger, try this turkey formula by chef and cookbook author Molly Stevens, which she created for Real Food. The secret ingredient? A bit of cottage cheese adds the richness and creaminess needed to transform lean ground turkey into five-star burgers that will satisfy any appetite, says Stevens. Crisp bacon, melted cheddar and a slather of special sauce don’t hurt either.

Burger Tips

While you’re grilling burgers this season, keep Stevens’ helpful tips in mind:

  • The goal when seasoning and shaping ground meat into burgers is to handle the meat gently and deftly without compressing since too much handling will result in tough, dry burgers.
  • To avoid the tendency for burgers to puff up in the middle as they cook, make a small depression in the center of each patty just before grilling (with the exception of a cheese-stuffed burger).
  • Don’t flip burgers any more than you have to (usually 2 to 3 times). Each time you flip, you release juices and risk having the burger fall apart.
  • Don’t press down on the burgers as they cook; this only dries them out.
  • Veggie, fish and turkey burgers are more delicate than beef and lamb burgers and require a little more care when flipping. A flat stainless-steel grill basket can provide extra insurance against sticking; just be sure it’s clean and hot before adding the burgers.

Turkey, Bacon and Cheddar Burgers

Makes 6 Burgers

1 cup cottage cheese, preferably whole milk
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
canola or peanut oil, for grilling

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dill relish
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash vinegar or lemon juice, to taste

6 slices cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and cut in half crosswise
6 soft hamburger rolls, preferably sesame or whole grain
ripe tomato slices, lettuce leaves, pickles (optional)

  1. Put the cottage cheese in a mixing bowl, and mash with a fork to create very fine curds. Add the turkey, breaking it into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Add the mustard, salt, thyme and pepper, and mix to incorporate without compressing the meat. Divide into 6 equal lumps, and shape into patties, each about 4½ inches across and ¾ inch thick. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Make the Sauce: Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.
  3. Heat a grill to medium hot. Lightly coat the surface of the burgers with oil and grill, flipping 2 or 3 times, until almost cooked through, about 14 minutes. Top each with cheese, and continue cooking until the cheese is just melted, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Toast the hamburger rolls on the grill.
  4. Smear both inner sides of the rolls with sauce. Arrange burgers on the rolls, top with bacon and any additional toppings.

Cook’s Notes:
• Offer any extra sauce at the table or save it to dress up your next turkey or chicken sandwich.
• For a fresh take on a Tex-Mex turkey burger, substitute chili powder for dried thyme, swap in chipotle mayonnaise for the sauce, and add ripe avocado to your selection of toppings.
• Turkey burgers should be cooked all the way through. If you use an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 160°F.

Nutrition info Turkey, Bacon & Cheddar Burgers (Per Serving): Calories 683; Fat 44g (Sat. 12g); Chol 157mg; Sodium 1348mg; Carb 25g; Fiber 1g; Added Sugars 4g; Protein 46g

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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 school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.