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Author Notes: If you're looking for a virtuous turkey burger, you've opened the wrong recipe. This recipe is inspired by the bacon turkey burger served at Foster Burger in Portland, OR, and it is chock full of bacon. The bacon adds its umami goodness, but doesn't take center stage. Lightly caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, butter lettuce, and a smokey, piquant sauce help to make this burger devilishly good. - hardlikearmour
Food52 Review: This burger was AWESOME! Of course, with a pound of bacon and some fat it's going to be hard to fail, but this was the juiciest, moistest turkey burger I have ever had. The sauce was really good too and honestly, I saved what was left and plan to slather it on my next (beef) burger this weekend. The caramelized onions added a nice sweetness, the sauce had a delicious smokiness from the paprika, the swiss mellowed everything out and the result was juicy, salty, bacon heaven. Now, I don't even want to think how many calories I ingested but it was worth every bite. DELISH! - Anna Francese Gass
Makes 4 burgers
For the bacon turkey burgers:
- 1 pound thickly sliced peppered bacon
- 1 extra-large yellow or sweet onion
- 1 pound ground turkey (about 90% lean)
- 4 pub or brioche hamburger buns
- 4 slices swiss cheese (if they're especially thin slices, double up)
- 4 bun-sized butter lettuce leaves (preferably crisper inner leaves)
For the smoky burger spread:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade is excellent, but store-bought works well)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced pickled peppers (sweet or spicy -- your choice)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Preheat oven to 400º F, with a rack in the lower middle position. Lay slices of bacon onto a rimmed half-sheet pan without any overlap. Bake the bacon 15 to 18 minutes -- it should be cooked but still a little pliable. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. (Do not eat more than one slice!) Pour the bacon fat through a strainer into a jar or other suitable receptacle.
- While the bacon is cooking, prep the onion. Cut the root and leaf ends off, then remove the papery outer skin. Cut the onion in half lengthwise (from cut end to cut end). Cut each half into thin, lengthwise slices.
- Transfer 2 tablespoons of bacon fat into a large sauté pan and heat over medium-low. Add the onions, and stir to coat. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and lightly caramelized. It will take about 45 minutes. Lightly season with salt.
- Combine the burger spread ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until homogenous.
- Coarsely chop or crumble the bacon, and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Combine the chopped bacon, ground turkey, and 1 tablespoon bacon fat in a medium bowl. Mix, using your hands, until bacon is well-distributed through the meat. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and form into patties that are about 5/8-inch thick and between 1/2 and 3/4 inch larger in diameter than the buns. Refrigerate if you will be 30 minutes or longer until you grill the burgers. Season the burgers with salt just before cooking them.
- Heat the grill to high, with coals to 1 side if using charcoal. Clean and oil the grates. If using a gas grill turn off one burner. Assemble the burger ingredients. Brush the insides of the bun with a thin layer of bacon fat (or spread it on if the fat has solidified). Grill the burgers over direct heat, for 3 to 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Watch closely and remove the burgers to indirect heat briefly as needed if more than minor “flare-ups” occur. Grill the buns over indirect heat, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. When the burgers are a minute or so from being done, apply a slice of cheese to each patty and put the cover on the grill to allow the cheese to soften and start to melt.
- Assemble the burgers: Spread the burger spread on both sides of each bun. Place the patties on the bottom buns. Divide the caramelized onions between the burgers. Cap with the butter lettuce leaves concave side down. Place top buns on. Dig in!
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