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Thanksgiving Burgers

This is a great local and American burger for two main reasons. First off, this burger represents the holiday that all Americans can share regardless of race, culture or religion: Thanksgiving. We all have things to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving is the time of year we come together with loved ones to celebrate. This burger uses the most traditional Thanksgiving ingredients in an entirely non-traditional way. The second reason this burger celebrates local and American traditions, is its use of local New England ingredients. The Cabot cheddar cheese is from Vermont, and it is a wink and a nod to a traditional Thanksgiving dish of my family: my mother’s pearl onions with a cheddar cheese sauce. The cranberry sauce used is from Ocean Spray, whose headquarters is just down the street from Plymouth, MA, where the first Thanksgiving took place! This burger could only be more representative of local and American traditions if it were topped with a slice of apple pie.

Ingredients 

3 medium red potatoes, washed
Non-stick cooking spray

1/3 cup diced onion (about ½ of a medium sized yellow onion)
1/3 cup diced celery (about 1 rib)
¾ cup Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing Mix
¾ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package of 93/7 Shady Brook Farm ground turkey

1 can Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons water

12 ounces shredded Cabot Extra Sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese

6 Kaiser rolls (not seeded, preferably from the bakery dept.)

½ cup roughly chopped roasted pecans

Instructions 

Potatoes, Step One:
Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut 3 pieces of foil, about 12 inches long. Spray one side of each piece with non-stick cooking spray. Wrap one potato snugly in each piece of foil, and place potatoes over indirect heat on the grill. Close cover and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out easily.

Turkey patties, Step One:
In a large mixing bowl, combine onion, celery, stuffing mix, poultry seasoning, applesauce, egg and salt; stir well to combine. Add ground turkey, and mix/squish with hands until combined (about 10 "squishes"). Do not over mix. Form meat into 6 even portions, and then form each portion into a flat patty about 5 inches in diameter. Spray a plate with non-stick cooking spray, and lay the patties on it. Put in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Cranberry Sauce:
While potatoes are still cooking (after preparation of burger patties), prepare cranberry sauce. Place cranberry sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan. When potatoes are removed from heat, lower heat to medium-low, and put pan over indirect heat. (If sauce sizzles right away, heat is too high. Remove pan, lower heat, and try again). Allow sauce to come to a simmer. Once simmering, mix cornstarch and water in a small dish. Slowly add to sauce, stirring sauce while adding. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and cover until ready to assemble burgers. Bring grill heat back up to medium. Remove turkey patties from refrigerator while grill is heating back up.

Potatoes, Step Two:
While grill is heating back up to medium heat, prepare mashed potatoes. Remove foil and place potatoes back in the medium mixing bowl. Mash slightly with a potato masher; then add milk, butter, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix and max thoroughly. Cover and set aside until ready to assemble burgers.

Turkey patties, Step Two:
Place each patty on the grill surface over direct heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, uncovered, on each side. To test for done-ness, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest patty, and make sure it reads 165 degrees. Turn heat to low, remove burgers to indirect heat, top each with 2 ounces of cheese, close cover, and allow cheese to melt for 1 minute.

While patties are cooking, prepare buns. Slice each bun in half horizontally. Scoop out the excess bread from the top half of the bun with fingers (making a shallow bowl shape). Evenly divide and spread the mashed potatoes between each bun bottom (about 3-4 tablespoons per bun), and top with about 1 tablespoon of the pecans (again, use all pecans evenly).

When cheese is melted on burgers, remove each patty to a potato and nut covered bun bottom. Top with about 3 tablespoons of the cranberry sauce (again, use all the sauce evenly). Affix the bun top, and enjoy!

Comments 

This is a fantastically filling burger. While it has a few steps involved in its preparation, it is not terribly difficult to create. The steps are all relatively simple, and involve no technical cooking knowledge or skills. And, since the burger is a meal in itself, no side dishes need to be prepared; thus, when the burgers are done it is time to eat! It is my intention that people will make this burger more simple to create than it already is, by using leftover mashed potatoes from a meal earlier in the week, or prepared stuffing leftover from a real Thanksgiving meal. The cranberry sauce can also be prepared ahead of time, and used as a cold or room temperature condiment. I hope that anyone who eats this burger instantly has memories of Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends!