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Live, Love, Eat!: Turkey Mushroom Burgers with Chunky Tomato Salsa Compote

An excellent example of Puck's California cuisine. The burgers are paired with a cooked salsa that complements the savory mushroom flavors. This would be a fun recipe for a weekend picnic or barbeque.

But not for a weekday dinner. Like most of the recipes in this book, this is not a "throw-it-together" meal. There's a lot of chopping, mincing, and dicing going on here. Depending on how good your knife skills are and how fast you are, it could take you from 30 minutes to an hour to get everything prepped and ready to go. I've split the difference in the Prep Time estimate below.

Another telltale clue that Puck is used to thinking in terms of restaurant cooking, not home cooking: the burger mixture calls for a teaspoon of minced onion. In a restaurant kitchen, coming across a teaspoon of minced onion is no big deal -- even if you can't find it already prepped, you can mince up an entire onion and know that it won't go to waste. But in a home kitchen, what are you supposed to do with the remaining onion after you've shaved off a thin slice and minced it to get your 1 teaspoon? I suppose you could wrap it up and save it, or if you're making something else that needs onions, no problem. But if you're just making this one recipe, you're left with practically an entire onion that is going to go to waste if you don't use it up within a day or so. I opted to avoid this situation altogether and used the white part of one of the green onions called for in the compote recipe for the minced onion in the burger recipe. No fuss, no muss.

Also a bit problematic: the burger recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground turkey. Again, in a restaurant this is no big deal. But for the home chef who's buying prepackaged ground turkey at the grocery store, an issue arises, because ground turkey is sold in 1.25 pound packages. So you've got to buy 2 packages, but then you have 2.5 pounds of turkey. To make sure I made the recipe exactly as written, I busted out the kitchen scale and weighed the extra 8 oz. that needed to be discarded. If you don't have a kitchen scale, or don't want to dirty it up, you could eyeball a couple of big handfuls of ground turkey and remove them. And then you could...wrap it up and freeze it, I guess, although I'm not sure what you could make with just 8 oz. of ground turkey. It's a little bit annoying. If you only want to make 4 burgers, you could halve the recipe and use 1 package of ground turkey, discarding a small handful. It's not an issue that can't be worked around, but it does point out that adjustments have to be made to some of Puck's recipes before they're completely home-kitchen-friendly.

And then there's the tomato concassé. The compote recipe lists "1 cup tomato concassé" and gives the page number. When you turn to that page, you'll find instructions for the technique, but no indication of yield; that is, how many tomatoes does one need to end up with 1 cup of tomato concassé? I'm pretty good at eyeballing these things, but I was glad that I had tossed one extra tomato into my grocery basket, because it took five plum tomatoes to make the required 1 cup of concassé, and I had thought it would only take four. If you're in doubt about how many tomatoes you need, err on the side of too many; the compote recipe will easily incorporate extra tomatoes.

Surprisingly, Puck doesn't recommend toasting the hamburger buns before serving. I think they taste much better if they're heated through quickly right before serving. You can toss them on the grill, under the broiler, or in the skillet for a minute or two to lightly toast them just before assembling the burgers.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 burgers

Turkey Mushroom Burgers
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced onion (use the white part of 1 of the green onions you bought for the compote)
1 bay leaf
1 pound button mushrooms, rinsed and finely chopped
1 pound portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

Chunky Tomato Salsa Compote
1 cup tomato concassé (see note, above, and instructions, below)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced green onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp minced jalapeño pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

For Cooking and Serving
2 Tbsp olive oil, for oiling the grill rack or heating in a skillet
8 hamburger buns
10 ounces queso fresco (fresh white Mexican cheese) or other mild white cheese, crumbled or shredded
Thinly sliced red onion
Romaine lettuce leaves

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and when butter has melted, add the garlic, onion, and bay leaf and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the mixture looks almost dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme and oregano. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Remove the bay leaf.

Put the turkey in a large mixing bowl and add the cooled mushroom mixture. Stir with a spoon or mix with your hands until the turkey and mushrooms are thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions, forming each into a compact, even ball. To form the patties, place a sheet of plastic wrap about 12 inches long on a work surface and brush it with some olive oil. Put a ball of the turkey mixture in the center of half of the sheet and fold the other half over it. With the back of a plate, press down on the ball to flatten it to an even patty about 3/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining turkey mixture. Refrigerate until ready to cook (if making in advance, layer the patties in a plastic container, using waxed paper between each layer).

To make the Chunky Tomato Salsa Compote: In a small saucepan, combine the tomato concassé, red and green onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, vegetable oil, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

To cook: use a charcoal or gas grill, indoor grill pan, oven broiler, or heavy skillet. Preheat to high. Use the 2 Tbsp of olive oil to grease the grill or pan, and cook the turkey burgers until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

To serve: toast the hamburger buns (on the grill, under the broiler, or in a skillet) until warmed through and lightly browned. Top each bun with a turkey burger, a generous spoonful of the Chunky Tomato Salsa Compote, some red onion slices, some white cheese, and a romaine leaf. Serve immediately.

Tomato Concassé
4 large or 5 medium plum or Roma tomatoes

Score an X on the flower end of the tomatoes. Drop them into a large saucepan of boiling water and blanch for about 30 seconds. Drain, then drop the tomatoes into a bowl of ice water. Remove and peel the skins off with your fingers, or a paring knife if necessary. Core the stem ends. Halve lengthwise and remove the seeds with your fingers. Slice lengthwise, then crosswise to make fine dice. Makes about 1 cup.



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