Saturday, September 12, 2009

Less Meat

Last week, W said something to me I never thought I would hear.

"Honey, let's get away from so much red meat."

He said this as he pushed a perfectly cooked, yet still strangely dry and tough New York strip steak around on his plate. My husband loves meat. When I first met him, he was subsisting on one huge Carl's Jr burger per day (ok, he was broke then too). The only salad he would eat was a Cheesecake Factory Cobb, laden with bacon and blue cheese and drowning in their balsamic dressing (extra on the side, please). Up until last week, his go-to meal when on the run, or even just at work was always a cheeseburger.

I was happy to hear the "less meat" request. If I wasn't cooking for him, truth be known, most of my meals would be meatless, or would contain small amounts of the red/white stuff. When we met, I was broke too and really careful with my money. I ate a lot of pasta and fresh tomatoes and vegetables. Cooking for myself was always easy. I'm Chinese, I believe in 1) leftovers, morning, noon and night; and 2) meat in small quantities. Big steaks are for Texans and special occasions. I also believe that dinner can be breakfast, and that a big wedge of leftover strawberry birthday cake is a perfectly acceptable meal to give you child before shuttling her off to school, but those are all different topics.

Turkey burgers are always notoriously dry and tasteless. Let's be honest, the turkey is a boring-ass bird. We only eat it at Thanksgiving because we are supposed to, and even then, in my house we won't eat it any other way than deep fried (more on this in another month!). I wouldn't eat it at all for Thanksgiving if family didn't want it. My ass would be giving thanks for something else.

Here then, is a recipe for the best non-dry turkey burger you will ever have. It gets veggies in there as well, and has a ton of flavor. You don't need anything else, but bonus points if you can serve a salad with it. If it passes muster with my husband, it will with yours, too.

Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe; her original was still a little tasteless!
4 servings (I actually got 5 burgers out of this)

1 lb ground turkey (you can use chicken if you want, but I no wanna)
Salt & pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
A handful or so of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
One 10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
Slices of beefsteak tomato
One jar marinated artichoke hearts
Sliced provolone cheese
Hamburger Buns

Preheat a grill, grill pan or large nonstick skillet to medium-high.

Take a few of the marinated artichokes and rinse them, removing a lot of the oily marinade. Carefully chop into small pieces, they can still be slippery. Place the ground turkey in a medium bowl and season with S & P. Add the lemon zest, Parmigianno-Reggiano, chopped garlic, spinach, thyme and chopped artichoke hearts. The mixture will be loose. Give it a little drizzle of olive oil, and then add a teaspoon or so of the artichoke marinade from the jar. Mix all ingredients well, adding a little more artichoke marinade as necessary to moisten the mixture and get it to hold together. Form into 4 (or 5) patties and cook the burgers until firm and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Remove the rest of the marinated artichokes from the jar and pat dry on paper towels. Flatten a little with your hand, if any of the hearts seem too large, thinly slice, or halve the heart part horizontally.

In the last 2 minutes of the burgers cooking, time, divide the marinated artichokes evenly among the top of the burgers, then cover each with a slice (or 2 if you want) of provolone. If cooking on the grill, drop the lid to melt the cheese, or tent your grill pan or skillet with aluminum foil. Lightly grill your buns if you like, and place a burger on top of each tomato slice. Serve immediately, coagulated cheese is no fun.


  1. Not only is it healthier for you to cut down on the red meat but it's healthier for the environment. It's even better if you can do at least 1 vegitarian meal a week. Kuddos to you!