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Battle of the Burgers: Taste of Italy turkey burger

June 26, 2012 | 10:27 am

Tasteofitalykirkmckoy

This year we received more than 140 entries in our second annual Battle of the Burgers! We asked you to vote for your top 20, and then we got down to testing. We're running our five favorites in Saturday's Food section, but will feature one burger recipe a day this week here at the Daily Dish blog. This way, you'll have plenty of time to nosh on ideas for your Fourth of July festivities!

Taste of Italy turkey burger

Total time: About 1 hour

Servings: 6

Note: From George Levinthal of Goleta, Calif. Prepared tomato-basil pasta sauce is generally available at most markets.

Turkey burgers

2 pounds ground turkey, a combination of white and dark meat

1/4 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 egg

1/3 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes

3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano cheese

1. In a large bowl, crumble the ground turkey along with the chopped red onion, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, basil and oregano.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Beat in the pasta sauce and olive oil. Pour the sauce mixture over the seasoned turkey and mix to combine.

3. Mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, bread crumbs and one-third cup of the cheese, mixing gently by hand until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

4. Divide the mixture and form 6 patties, coating them with the remaining cheese. Set them aside to rest briefly. The patties can be assembled up to one day in advance, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill; remove the burgers from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking to temper slightly.

Sautéed mushrooms and olives

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups of sliced baby portobello mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup white wine

1 cup of sliced kalamata olives, drained and rinsed

Just before cooking the burgers, heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper and sauté until lightly colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and olives, and keep the mixture over low heat until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Taste of Italy turkey burger

Turkey burgers

6 slices provolone cheese

6 focaccia rolls

Sautéed mushrooms and olives

6 slices tomato

1 1/2 cups of tomato-basil pasta sauce, warmed

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cook the burgers: Because the burgers are delicate, you might want to heat a cast iron grill pan on the grill, or cook them in a large frying pan. Heat the grill or frying pan over medium high heat. Coat the surface with a little spray oil and gently add the patties. Lower the heat to medium and cook the burgers for 4 minutes, careful not to move them until they are ready to turn. Gently and carefully flip the burgers using a spatula and your hand. Cook an additional 4 minutes, and check for doneness; a meat thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and top the burgers with cheese. Continue cooking until the cheese melts, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Gently remove the burgers and set aside to rest for a couple of minutes.

4. While the cheese is melting, slice the rolls. Place them in the oven to warm for a few minutes.

5. Assemble the burgers: Spoon the sautéed mushrooms and olives over the bottoms of each of the 6 rolls, followed by a slice of tomato. Place a burger on top of each. Divide the pasta sauce among the 6 burgers, spooning one-fourth cup of sauce over each. Cover each burger with a roll top and serve immediately.

Each serving: 996 calories; 63 grams protein; 81 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 44 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 180 mg cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 2,533 mg sodium.

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-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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