Charcuterie Turkey Burger

As promised, a burger to out-burger any burger, with a recipe that certainly elevates the turkey burger to a status it frequently does not enjoy. That is to say that this version of the normally dried-out, grainy, bland, poor-substitute-for-a-real-burger burger, makes this a burger worth eating. I’ll go so far as to declare that it makes it downright crave-worthy. So, enough with the praise, give us the damn recipe! Right? Fine with me because I’m packing  and running around like the usual pre-vacation lunatic I become, convinced I must not only pack for the trip, but also leave my house, finances, bills, desktop, underwear drawer and garage all in perfect order before I go. Since I will be vacationing with my children, occupying a beach house rental for 10 days in East Hampton, which is driving distance from home, I won’t have to labor over the usual “open in emergency only” letters to them, trying to cover everything I could possibly want them to know should I expire or explode while traveling by air.

So here’s the quick rundown of how I took a Grant Achatz (Alinea) recipe for a beef charcuterie burger and transformed it to be turkey terrific. I subbed out the beef for DARK meat turkey, the bacon for turkey bacon, then added grated zucchini as the secret moisture bearing ingredient that makes this juicy and may even earn it a place on the food triangle as a vegetable if the FDA has anything to do with it.

Turkey bacon. It’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it does pack the smokey punch that takes this burger into the charcuterie category. Grind this up in a food processor or meat grinder…and you are going to sauté till crisp, add some shallots…and build you some layers of FLAVA!

Grate the zucchini in the food processor or by hand…salt it, extract the liquid after it sits for 10-15 minutes, then add into the ground turkey…

Form your burgers and you are good to go to the grill…(or you can just as easily pan fry then bake in the oven, if you don’t have access to a grill. (See instructions below.) When grilling turkey burgers I like to use foil because they tend to be a bit soft and stick to the grill, or fall through the cracks. With foil, I can grease the surface a bit to avoid the sticking and it adds some fat to the burgers, which is not a bad thing. You still get the grill marks and the grilled flavor, without the disaster potential. And the burgers stay good-looking.

Do not leave out the apples. They are such a great sweet, buttery, surprising element to this burger and slicing them and pan browning them in butter takes about 8 minutes. I’m imagining using this as a side for grilled pork chops too…or pancakes…or on a ham sandwich…

Now, don’t forget that Sauce Grebiche from the last post. Try not to moan out loud when you are eating it. Unless everyone else is too.

Charcuterie Burger
adapted from Grant Achatz, as published in Men’s Health Magazine


Canola oil (for greasing the foil on the grill)
8 slices turkey bacon, finely chopped (or you may use pork bacon)
1/4 cup finely diced shallots
1 Tbsp caraway seeds, ground to a powder in a spice grinder, or crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 1/2  lb ground turkey, dark meat grind (or you may use beef, lamb, pork or a combo thereof)
1 medium zucchini
1 large Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese, sliced thin or grated
1 1/2 tsp (plus a pinch) kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1 sprig thyme
3 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
4 brioche or potato bread hamburger buns, split and toasted (optional)


1. Using a box grater (larger hole side) or a food processor, grate the zucchini. Place the grated zucchini in a bowl and combine with ½ teaspoon of salt. Allow it to “sweat” out moisture for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, combine the gribiche ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate. Using your hands, working over a separate bowl or the sink, squeeze as much of the moisture out of the shredded zucchini as you can. Hold aside.

2. In a large pan, heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil on medium. Add the chopped turkey bacon and saute until slightly crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the shallots and caraway seeds and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 3 more minutes. Transfer this mixture to a small bowl and cool down in the refrigerator.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet, over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, immediately add the apple slices and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes, keeping the flame medium-low so the butter won’t burn…it will get brownish, which is fine, but you don’t want it to get burnt.  Flip them and cook until browned on the other side, another 3-4 minutes or so, until the apples are soft.

3. For Cooking In the oven: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Add the bacon mixture to the ground turkey along with the zuchinni, Gruyere, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Combine well, but don’t overwork the meat mixture. Form the meat into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

4. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large ovenproof saute pan on high until the oil begins to smoke. Add the burger patties, thyme, and garlic. Cook, without moving the meat, until the bottoms of the burgers caramelize and develop a crust, about 2 1/2 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, flip the patties and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10-12 more or until they feel firm to the touch. (Turkey burgers should be cooked through…no pink! But if you do this with beef, cook to desired temp.)  minutes to finish the burger. Remove the burgers from the oven and let them rest in the pan to absorb juices for 3-4 minutes.

5. For Cooking On The Grill: Place a large piece of foil over the hot grill. You may have to anchor it with something, on two sides because the rising heat will “blow” it off. Lightly grease with canola oil. Grill burgers, turning several times to keep from burning and until they are cooked through and somewhat firm to the touch.

6. Place the burgers on the bottom half of each bun. Spread a generous helping of sauce gribiche on each burger. Top with a few pieces of roasted apple and then the bun tops, and serve. Makes 4 servings. For grain free, or gluten free option, eat without the bun, or sit it down in a “cup” of iceberg lettuce and use the leaf as your “wrap”.

Note: The recipe calls for putting the Gruyere cheese inside the burger mix, whereas I prefer my cheese oozing atop my burgers. I compromised by doing a little of both to have the tangy cheese flavor inside and out. You decide!