Wednesday, 14 October 2009

My Mom - Barb's - Turkey Burgers


Actually, last night these were chicken burgers, because although it was Thanksgiving in our house on Monday night, it wasn't Thanksgiving in England where we live. Fresh turkeys are really not easily available in England in October (or November if you happen to come from the US) - only at Christmas. Requesting them brings you strange looks except in the friendliest of butcher shops, and even then all they can really offer you is a turkey roll. Much to our butcher's dismay, I "forgot" to order one of those in time as I really could not face a large sausage shaped mass of meat on the table at Thanksgiving. It needs to be bird shaped. So I bought the biggest chicken they had. It was lovely - richly flavoured and juicy - and it left me with lots of leftovers, which I was very pleased about.

I publish this recipe in memory of my mother, who I miss like crazy. It is entirely hers although I know she would not mind me borrowing it. In fact she would have told me to tell everyone I invented it, but I am pathologically incapable of lying. (Seriously, ask anyone who knows me. I just can't do it. It's very inconvenient.) Anyway, my Mom's name was Barbara, but everyone called her Barb, hence this recipe's title. She was a wonderful cook, and invented this recipe to use up Thanksgiving and Christmas leftovers. It is particularly good for those little pieces of meat you pull off the carcass that are not very pretty but taste really good. It's definitely one of those dinner sandwiches you eat with a knife and fork though. Don't be tempted to pick it up; things could get really messy.

Actually, my Mom left me a whole box full of recipes and two cookbooks full of notes. It could be a whole other blog working my way through those....and a really delicious experiment. Food for thought.

But on with the turkey (or chicken) burgers. The quantities are of course flexible, and you need as many rolls as there are people (or more if you are serving those with big appetites). The only thing I do differently to my Mom is to use seeded rolls made with whole wheat flour. My Mom used what we would call "hamburger rolls", those white rolls you get in multi-packs for barbeques. They taste lovely with it too, so please yourself. The wholewheat flour rolls were not easily available when Mom used to make these, and as I recall I had a childhood aversion to whole grains which probably influenced her choice as well.

This is not a recipe to stress over, so please don't be making gravy especially for it. This is a great use of leftover gravy, or you can use canned or gravy from a packet mix. Seriously, it tastes better for its lack of pretension.

Barb's Turkey/Chicken Burgers

To serve four people you need:-

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 or 3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
about 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken cut in small pieces
about 1 cup of gravy
4 rolls

Heat the oil or melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onion in the oil or butter until it is beginning to become translucent. Add the red pepper and celery, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and half the gravy. Cover and let warm through over low heat, stirring occasionally. After about ten minutes, check the consistency of the mixture. It needs to be reasonably thick but still juicy, so add some more gravy a bit at a time if it needs it. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs it. (Many ready-made gravies are quite salty so go carefully.)

Toast the rolls (you can butter them too if you like but my Mom never did so neither do I), and put the bottom of the rolls on the plates. Top with spoonfuls of the turkey/chicken mixture and then the top of the rolls. Don't overfill though as the mixture has a tendency to spread out.

I like to serve these with salad, just like my Mom did.