Battle of the Burgers recipe: Southwest turkey burger

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“I love burgers but have tried to eat less beef so I’ve been working to perfect a healthier turkey burger that packs a lot of flavor. Without using much salt, I infuse other seasonings and flavors to add more flavor and to keep it moist. I’ve developed what I think will work to keep the burger moist and add a great punch of flavor without hiding the taste of the burger.” --George Levinthal, Goleta, CA

Southwest turkey burger

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Total time:1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time for the chiles

Servings: 6

Note: From George Levinthal of Goleta, Calif.

Turkey burger patties

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 green onions, chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds ground turkey (not just breast meat)

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup panko crumbs

1. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the olive oil, then stir in the green onions and garlic. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, crumble the turkey and add one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cumin, Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce. Stir in the mixture with the turkey, then fold in the onions and garlic, along with any liquid remaining in the sauté pan. (This will help to keep the burgers from getting dry.)

4. Fold in the panko crumbs gently, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Separate the mixture into 6 portions, and form burger patties fitted to the shape of the bun. Cover and refrigerate them (up to 4 hours) while assembling the other components to give the flavors time to marry.

Grilled Anaheim chiles

2 large Anaheim chiles

On a grill or stove burner heated over high heat, or under the broiler, grill or broil the peppers until the skins are charred and blackened on all sides. Immediately move them to a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to give the chiles time to cool. Peel the skins (they should peel or brush off easily), then core and seed the peppers. Cut each chile into 3 pieces.


4 ripe avocados

5 green onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons green jalapeno Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Peel and lightly mash the avocados (the mash should be chunky) in a medium bowl. Fold in the onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin and Tabasco sauce. Add the lime juice and stir to thoroughly combine. This makes a scant 3 cups guacamole. Cover and set aside.

Burgers and assembly

Prepared turkey burger patties

6 slices of pepper-jack cheese

Oil or mayonnaise for brushing the buns

6 large egg buns with sesame seeds


2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Grilled Anaheim chile slices

6 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste

Kosher pickle spears

1. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until hot. (The turkey patties may not be as firm as other burger meats; if using a grill, you might cook on a cast iron skillet over the grate if the patties feel a little soft.) Lightly oil the grill, and add the patties.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-high and grill until the undersides of the burgers are crisp and firm, 4 to 5 minutes and the lower half feels set (do not attempt to flip the burgers until they are set). Carefully flip the burgers with a spatula, then cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes and check the burgers for doneness.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and top each of the burgers with cheese. Continue to grill until the cheese melts. As the cheese is melting, brush the cut side of each bun half with a little oil or mayonnaise and add the buns to the grill to lightly toast. Remove the burgers and buns from heat.

4. Assemble the burgers: Divide the guacamole between the burgers, placing a scoop on the bottom bun of each burger. Top each scoop with a tomato slice. Place a burger on top of each tomato, then top each burger with a chile slice. Spread a tablespoon of mustard on the top half of each bun, then place the bun tops on the burgers. Serve the burgers with pickle spears.

Each burger: 901 calories; 48 grams protein; 72 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams fiber; 49 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 220 mg cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 1,329 mg sodium.