Mother’s Recipe: Turkey Burgers with Fancy Mayo and Beautiful Buns

Every month or so we have a couple of young men over to our house for dinner and I spend all week thinking about what I am going to make for them. I want to make something filling, but not too heavy. These boys have been out all day, working hard, and I imagine they need something that is going to fuel them well but not send them into a fat-dogging stupor. I want to make something homey and familiar, because they are far from home and could probably use the comfort. But I don’t want it to be boring and bland. I want it to be something that takes a little bit of thought and effort, because they could go back to their apartment and throw something together just as well as I could. But I don’t want it to be too fancy, either, because this is not a dinner party. (If it were a dinner party, we definitely would have reminded Manchild to close the door while he used the restroom.) And, of course, I want it to be something relatively healthy, but not in a kill-joy sort of way.

In short, I try to think of something that I would want someone to serve my boys when they are far away from home for the first time and in need of a nourishment for both body and spirit. I hope these turkey burgers, served with a tossed salad and topped off with chocolate chip cookies, fit the bill tonight. The young men seemed to enjoy it, and the rest of us liked it as well. (Except maybe Squish, who fell asleep at the table after skipping his nap this afternoon. Silly boy.)

Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onions (because I would eat a shoe if it were covered in caramelized onions) adapted from Epicurious

2 large yellow onions, chopped medium

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons dried basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are light brown, 10-15 minutes. Move the onions and garlic to a bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Shape into 9 4-inch patties. Re-heat the skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties (go ahead and put as many as you can in at a time) for about 5 minutes, until the first side is dark and crispy, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Check to see that they are cooked through before removing them to a plate.

Smoky Aioli (aka Fancy Mayonnaise) adapted from Epicurious

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir together. Slather onto your (turkey burger) buns.

Super Awesome Homemade Buns adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the buns:

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg

2 tablespoons butter

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the wash:

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon water

seeds (poppy, sesame) or dried onion, to sprinkle

Mix all the ingredients for the buns in a large bowl (you can use a mixer or food processor as well), and mix or knead until a soft, tacky dough forms. Place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 60-70 minutes.

Turn the risen dough onto a clean work surface and roll or press into 12×17 in rectangle. Roll the dough into a log, starting at a 12-inch side, and seal the side seam. Using kitchen shears or dental floss, cut the log into 8 or 9 slices (they should each be about 1 1/2 inches wide). Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper or lightly greased. Flatten the buns so they are about 3 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour, until puffy.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375. Mix the egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the buns with a pastry brush, then sprinkle with the seeds or onions or whatever. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet. Admire their beauty before serving.

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  1. Just when I thought you couldn’t outdo yourself Lizzie, you go and make homemade hamburger buns– wowzers! Looks delish!


    lizzie Reply:

    I’m sure there are marvelous bakery buns out there . . . but once I made these and realized how easy it can be, I decided it’s worth planning far enough ahead to get these made. But you know me: why do things the easy way when the hard way is twice as time consuming. 🙂


  2. We made these last night and although I can’t claim that they were a big hit with the fam, the hamburger buns WERE awesome, and gorgeous, and I will definitely make them again. Thanks!


    lizzie Reply:

    What? Your kids don’t like onions either? Or turkey (or meat of many kinds)? I hope it wasn’t that they were too dry or anything and was just a matter of taste. But I’m glad the buns were worth it! They really are worth the forethought.


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