Kentuckians rarely put away their grills for the winter. We just don jackets and gloves, and grill no matter what the weather. But for many people, Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the grilling season.
According to the 23rd annual Weber GrillWatch Survey, 71 percent of American grill owners fire up their back-yard grills on Memorial Day.
Whether you're a year-rounder or a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day griller who's planning a cookout for the holiday weekend, I suggest you vary your menu with turkey.
Turkey burgers lend themselves to a variety of flavors. You can add a curry, fresh herbs, cheeses or olives to make several different burgers. And turkey hot dogs and smoked sausages (some that come with cheese) generally have about two-thirds the calories and half the fat of all-beef dogs, but not always. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends reading the labels.
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Rachael Ray, in her newest cookbook, The Book of Burger, due in stores on June 5, says that ground turkey makes a tasty burger and that she prefers a white and dark meat blend, heavy on the dark meat.
A turkey burger can get dried out — a job made trickier by the need to cook poultry to 165 degrees — and stick to the grill unless you add a little heart-healthy fat, according to Cooking Light magazine. Stirring in 2 tablespoons of olive oil per pound of ground turkey keeps the burgers moist and juicy and also helps the burger form a nicely browned crust on the outside that won't stick to the grill.
Another tip is to sauté 1 cup diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until nice and tender, let them cool slightly, then mix the onion and oil from the pan into a pound of ground turkey to form four patties. The oil-coated onions do a marvelous job of adding moisture and flavor to lean poultry burgers.
Buffalo turkey burgers with blue cheese dressing
1½ pounds ground turkey breast
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick Montreal steak seasoning
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped
1 rib celery, from the heart, with greens, finely chopped
Vegetable oil for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup hot sauce
1 cup sour cream, reduced-fat sour cream or ranch dressing
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
Kosher salt and pepper
4 crusty rolls, split
In a large bowl, combine turkey, poultry seasoning, grill seasoning, garlic, scallions and celery; mix thoroughly. Score into 4 equal portions and form each into patty slightly thinner at the center than at edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle patties with oil.
Prepare grill or heat large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook burgers, flipping once, 10 to 12 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove to a plate. Melt butter in a pan and stir in hot sauce. Add burgers and turn to coat in the hot sauce-butter mixture.
Mix sour cream or ranch dressing with blue cheese crumbles and season with salt and pepper. Place burgers on the roll bottoms, and top with lettuce and blue cheese sauce. Set the roll tops in place. Makes 4 servings.
From The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray
Grilled turkey burgers with Gouda
2 pounds ground turkey (preferably 1 pound thigh and 1 pound breast)
1/2 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1 red onion, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces Gouda cheese, sliced
Prepare gas or charcoal grill for medium-heat cooking. In a large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using your hands or a large spoon, gently mix ingredients together — do not overmix. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions. Flatten into patties about 5 inches in diameter and no more than 3/4-inch thick (patties will shrink and thicken as they cook). Skewer onion slices on metal skewers, putting about 2 slices on each skewer. Brush slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Grill burgers and onion slices until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn burgers and onions and grill on the other side, about 2 minutes. Top burgers evenly with Gouda slices, cover grill, and continue cooking until onions are browned, burgers are cooked through and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes more. Serve burgers topped with onions as they are or in buns with your choice of condiments.
From Whole Foods Market
Smoked sausage and vegetable kebabs
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (14 ounces) smoked turkey dinner sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Heat grill or broiler. Toss vegetables in oil and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Thread smoked sausage with alternating vegetable pieces on 8 skewers. Grill or broil 10 minutes, turning often.
Note: This may be assembled 24 hours in advance and cooked when needed.
Smoky mesquite turkey burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
11/2 tablespoons Weber smoky mesquite seasoning
4 leaves lettuce
4 slices fresh tomato
Combine turkey, bread crumbs, milk, cheese and seasoning in large bowl. Shape into 4 patties. Grill over medium direct heat for 12 to 16 minutes, turning once, until burger is cooked through and center is at least 160 degrees. Serve on buns with lettuce and tomato.
From Weber Sauces & Seasonings