Heart-Healthy Turkey Burgers: A meal your kids will love

By award-winning Chef Kim Katz Alvarez, Philadelphia PA

Everyone is ready for a little break from heavy main courses and sugary desserts with the holidays behind us. But who wants to deprive themselves of flavor? Savor these mouthwatering turkey burgers by Chef Kim Alvarez for a blast of yum — without the guilt.

What you’ll need:

1 lb. ground turkey
2 T. Dijon mustard
6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 onion — chop 1 t. of it to put into the patties; caramelize the rest to top the burger
1 t. chopped garlic

Here’s how:

1. Gently mix ingredients into ground turkey, but don’t mush it up too much!

2. Form into patties, and pop on the grill.

Note: To make a perfect turkey burger that’s not too dry / not too wet inside, let the bottom get a little crusty brown before flipping. And only flip once! “You don’t want to mess around with your turkey burgers. Just put them on the grill and let them cook,” advises Chef Kim. “Then top with some savory options.” (See below)

3. Remove from pan and place atop toasted sesame or whole wheat bun — or get creative and slip it inside a grilled pita.

4. Top with your favorite condiments (lettuce, tomatoes, spicy red onion) — or try some of our favorite gourmet topping ideas.

Valentine’s Day Treat for the Kids — Just for fun, shape the burgers into hearts and cut the buns to match. Your little ones will love this special touch.

Topping options:

  • A slathering of Gruyère — A fabulous topping for these lean burgers is a layer of Gruyère cheese, one of the most famous Swiss cheeses. It is made from cow’s milk and has a nutty, slightly sweet taste with complex musty and mushroomy notes.
  • Caramelized onions — Slice the rest of the onion into 1/4-inch wide rings and saute in butter or a combo of butter/oil in a skillet. Add a pinch of sugar and cook slowly until onions are caramel in color (about 20-30 minutes). If you’d like to get fancy, add a splash of vinegar at the end to spice up the dish and deglaze the pan.
  • Pesto mayonnaise — Although it’s always fun to make fresh pesto (2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, 3 minced garlic cloves, salt, and pepper — pulse in a food processor, slowly adding the oil) it’s just as easy to buy a pint of fresh pesto from the grocery store. Mix 1 T. with 2 T. of your favorite mayo, and slather on the burger.

About Chef Kim Katz Alvarez

A graduate of Syracuse University’s restaurant management program and the two-year chef program at the Culinary Institute of America, cooking has been my passion since the age of 7.

I clearly remember when my mom enrolled me in a cooking class at Bloomingdales in Jenkintown, PA. It was Thanksgiving time, and our first assignment was to make homemade stuffing. My cousin Brandi was in the class, too, and she also liked all the tearing of the bread and combining it with the wet ingredients using her fingers. But I loved it.

It was the best stuffing I had ever tasted, and every Thanksgiving, I continue to make it for my family. In fact, every year, my daughter, Emma, and son, Alejandro, look forward to tearing the bread, helping me saute vegetables, and mixing it all with their hands.

But that’s what cooking is all about: bringing joy to family and friends through combining the best ingredients with some skill and a little magic. Although my mother never really loved to cook, she lit up when it came time to prepare the traditional Jewish dishes that her mother made best: chicken pot roast, chopped liver, and matzoh ball soup (although my mom always made the kind of matzoh balls that sink).

Of course, now that Edgar and I have kids, we teach them to prepare our grandmothers’ recipes. Rarely does a week go by when Emma doesn’t whip up a giant bowl of guacamole, or Alejandro doesn’t ask for some of mommom’s matzoh balls (he likes the kind that sinks, too).

I feel lucky to share the art of cooking with my kids and with my customers, too.

In my 25 years as a chef, I have had the privilege to work in some of the best kitchens in America, including Brad Ogden’s One Market in San Francisco and the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA, as the second-in-command at The Striped Bass under head chef Alison Barshack, and as head chef of Beaujolais in Philadelphia. I also worked as a chef at several gourmet markets in Philadelphia, including Gerard’s and Patina.

At those establishments, I learned not only how to prepare four-star meals but how to lead other chefs, so they enjoy coming to work each day. I also came to master what it means to truly take care of your guests. Here’s to doing that at home for your family, too!