Say goodbye to summer with turkey burgers

It’s a bittersweet time when summer ends. Those summer months are a blessing and a curse, but now the hot evenings, the mosquitoes, the sweat, and the sweet juicy tomatoes are all on the way out. What better way to say goodbye to short sleeves than with an end-of-summer cookout?

Gather your friends, grill up some fresh turkey burgers, open a can of light beer, we used Lost 40 Day Drinker, and pay your respects to the days of bright summer flavor. My good friend Scott McGehee of Yellow Rocket Concepts in Little Rock shared a few secrets to turkey burgers, aioli and Italian salsa verde on the patio of his restaurant. As the chef at Big Orange, which specializes in classic and innovative burgers, he would know a thing or two about the subject. This menu serves six people, so keep that in mind when you’re making the invitation list. (Hint: Double it!)

“For the best turkey burger, keep it simple,” he said. “Have your favorite butcher coarsely grind boneless, skinless turkey breast. Make into patties, about 5-6 ounces each, season with salt and pepper, and grill over medium heat. A very clean grate surface and pan spray can help avoid sticking.”

He also recommends grilling end-of-summer vegetables — squash, peppers, eggplant, zucchini — with a light coating of olive oil and salt to top the burger or to go on the side.

“Slice zucchini, and eggplant in ¼-inch thick slabs, then stem and seed peppers and keep them in pretty good size pieces, and quarter the large peppers,” he said. “Toss in a small amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill on both sides over medium heat until there are brown crispy areas on both sides. Set aside.”

McGehee also shared recipes for aioli – using Duke’s mayonnaise — and Italian salsa verde to add even more flavor to the turkey and vegetable combination. I’ve tried this combination and can assure that it’s delightful.

“Have a fork and knife handy because this one can get messy,” McGehee said. “Enjoy!”


Italian-style Salsa Verde
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
3 Tbsp rinsed and chopped capers
1 Tbsp minced anchovy (optional)
1 tsp minced garlic
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. In a second bowl, combine:

1/2 small red onion, finley minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Mix together just before serving. If they are mixed earlier, the vinegar and lemon juice will turn the parsley an unattractive olive color, rather than vibrant green).


Duke’s Mayo Aïoli
This is a quick version of garlic mayo using our favorite brand of mayo.

1 cup mayo
4-5 cloves very finely minced garlic (1-2 tablespoons to taste)
1/4 cup very high quality olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Process well, using an immersion blender or other blending device.


Put it all together to build the perfect burger:
Toast buns.
Apply aïoli on both sides.
Put a small pinch of fresh arugula on the bottom bun. Placed grilled turkey patty on bottom bun, then add sliced grilled veggies. Spoon about a tablespoon of salsa verde over the veggies and burger, finish with the top bun.


See this story in the September issue of Naturally. 

Salsa Fresca recipe from chef Scott McGehee 

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