ind a new favorite way to cook burgers minus the beef. Burgers have come a long way since the original ground-beef patty graced the inside of a white-bread bun. Creative burger variations and non-beef burgers, in particular, are growing more and more popular in our grilling-happy, sandwich-loving culture.
Whether you don’t eat beef, only eat poultry, or follow a fish-only diet, you can find a burger that fits your taste. Almost any ground protein can be transformed into the juicy, flavorful burger of your choice. Guidelines to keep in mind while deciding on how to prepare your burger include:
- Make sure to add flavor to pep up your preferred protein. Ground beef needs just a dash of salt and pepper to reach its full potential, but delicate ingredients like poultry and fish benefit from more intricate seasoning.
- Be careful with cook times. Lean proteins will cook up in a jiff, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon often taste better when they’re not fully cooked through. Note: Always buy sushi-grade fish when serving it rare.
- Grease your grill well. Red meat usually contains enough natural fat to prevent sticking on the grill, but leaner proteins will require a well-greased grill. A nonstick, perforated grill pan is also a good tool to ensure your burgers make it from grill to plate without any messy mishaps.
Ground buffalo patties are very close cousin of the beef burger, and can be prepared almost the same way. Buffalo meat is higher in protein, lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol, and a touch sweeter than beef. Due to its leaner composition, make sure not to overcook buffalo burgers. For a rich twist, try topping buffalo burgers with a thin slice of foie gras just before serving.
Tender, free-range venison creates an elegant variation on the classic burger. This game meat can be ground and seasoned simply with salt and white pepper before being grilled to perfection.
Lamb-lovers will agree, nothing beats a bacon-wrapped patty of ground lamb that’s been flavored with snipped fresh rosemary and black pepper. To keep the smoky, salty bacon in place while the burger cooks, try securing the patty with a metal skewer horizontally through the center.
Chicken and Turkey Burgers
Chicken is truly a lean way to go when picking your preferred burger protein. Complementary flavors for this white meat include sautéed onion and mixed organic mushrooms, fresh oregano and thyme, and even chopping bacon. Want to enrich your chicken burgers even further? Try adding a few handfuls of duck confit to the ground-chicken mixture before forming into patties. Ground turkey is another way to go if you’re craving poultry — dark meat is recommended to obtain a juicier result.
Duck in particular lends itself to Asian flavors. Rich, gamey duck breast tastes terrific when ground and seasoned with fresh ginger, scallions, and soy sauce. If you’re a duck purist, try enriching your ground duck mixture with chopped duck confit — the slow-cooked meat will only increase the tenderness and duck-forward flavor of your burgers.
Tuna or Salmon Burgers
Try adding savory Mediterranean flair to tuna or salmon burgers to complement the fish’s natural sea-borne character. Briny capers and olives can be chopped and added to the finely diced fish along with minced shallots and chopped fresh basil. Adding a little mashed potato or a handful of moistened breadcrumbs to the diced fish mixture will help the patties stay together while cooking. For a flavor boost, drizzle the finished fish burgers with heady, fragrant truffle oil.