Amazing Gluten Free Turkey Burgers

I know I’ve been MIA for a while.

During the month of November I worked something like 300 hours.  Yes, that’s approximately 75 hours a week.  Actually it was probably closer to 80 or more most weeks.  I have a full-time job (40 hours/week) and a business, and I took on more than normal (because I was doing special things for friends and family).  Two weekends in a row I had two events back to back.  Plus I was doing design work and timelines and e-mails and meetings…  I was pretty much only home to sleep.  Any other times I was there, I was working.  Even during dinner.  As a consequence my eating suffered and I was sick a lot of the month.

My husband kept me sane, cooking for me most evenings, but I had to run and grab food at the dining halls on campus, or the fast food joints here, most days for lunch.  And no matter how obviously gluten free something is at one of these places, I find that there’s often a lot of tainting going on.  Or I’m allergic to something else too.

Because I’d have a salad, no dressing, with carved turkey meat and GF crackers, and six or eight hours later I’d get a stomachache.  Or Mexican food that was specifically on the GF menu at the fast food restaurant and wake up crampy.

And then after most of the craziness had died down I worked a wedding as an assistant to a friend.  Usually when I coordinate these things, I talk in advance to the caterers, figure out other options for me to eat.  But this time I wasn’t so lucky.  And instead of serving tenderloin and potatoes or something equally as almost-guaranteed-to-be-gluten-free-unless-they-do-something-strange…  They served beef Wellington and panko-crusted fish.  I was starving, so I loaded up on digestive enzymes and hoped for the best.  Two days later I was at a football game and realized that the gluten free section – which only had gum-laden bread anyway – was three whole floors below me.  So I did the same.

Not a good month for my digestive health.

I actually did really, really well on Thanksgiving, and ended up having a complete GF meal.  Turkey, gravy, stuffing, the works.  The only major fail was that my brioche bread (used for rolls and stuffing) somehow ended up hard as a rock.  I blame the fact that I mixed it up at 6:30 in the morning before work the day before Thanksgiving.  But my pie crust was easily the best pie crust I’ve ever made, and was both crisp and tender without being too heavy (not that I set the bar too high, since even in my pre-GF days I pretty much have only ever made pie crust that was as hard as a rock!).

I really haven’t cooked much at all over the last few weeks.  I think I made waffles once, and spaghetti from a Trader Joe’s jar once or twice (By the way their new corn spaghetti? KILLER.  Their brown rice stuff, not so much, but try the corn!).

I did get back into the swing of things two nights ago, though, with this super easy and incredibly tasty recipe.

I used to use panko bread crumbs in pretty much any burger or meatball recipe.  They were easy, lent great texture, helped keep things moist, and didn’t add any weird flavors.  But of course, I can’t use panko anymore.

I came across some crisp rice cereal at my local health food store that is literally nothing more than crisp rice.  No salt, no sugar, no extra added flavors.  As a cereal, it’s kind of blah.  But as a panko replacer?  Fantastic.

I just crush up a bunch and throw it in a recipe.  Easy-peasy!

This particular recipe was basically just tossed together.  Ground turkey, a little crisp rice, and some veggies.  I don’t actually usually like turkey burgers – they tend to be dry and bland – so I tried to really ensure that these had as much flavor and moistness as possible.  But these turkey burgers?  INSANE.  DELICIOUS.  I am making this again.  And soon.

They’re also not greasy or heavy, and the veggies help make them even less of an indulgent meal than a typical beef burger.

The measurements aren’t necessarily set in stone.  I made these without really measuring too much…  Which is unfortunately when I do my best work.  Which means that often times I’m measuring after the fact, trying to get an equivalent amount to what I remember throwing in.  Yeah, I know…  I should totally test things out more thoroughly (I’m still testing my bread recipes for this reason).  So feel free to tweak!

One last note: I’m sorry for the ugly photo.  I really need to get better about taking pictures that appeal visually.  I mean, we eat first with our eyes, right?  Anyway I am at work on my lunch hour and snapped it with my phone camera.  So that’s why it looks sort of… Bleh.  As a testimonial to the yumminess, though, my boss just walked up to me and said “That smells AMAZING!”  So ugly photo or not, you should totally make these.

Turkey burger!

Elisa’s Turkey Veggie Burgers (makes 6 three-inch patties)

  • 1 package ground turkey meat (approx. 1.25 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup brown mushrooms, cut fine (measured after being cut)
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini or other summer squash (again, measured after being shredded)
  • 2-3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup crushed crisp rice cereal (try to get the brand with the least extra flavor; I’m sure GF crackers would work here, or GF cornflakes, or even GF breadcrumbs if you can tolerate commercial ones, but this works as a great sub for panko!)
  • 2-3 tbsp GF tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • salt if you wish (but the soy sauce is nice and salty)

Mix everything in a large bowl, until you don’t see any large clumps of veggies or cereal.  You’ll want the mixture to look relatively uniform.  Form into six patties and grill on your trusty indoor grill (or pop in the oven, but then you won’t get the pretty grill marks!) until done.  Ours took about 6 minutes per side, on high, since I’m afraid of undercooking turkey, but were still moist and tender!

Serve as a burger (or a cheeseburger with a nice piece of sharp cheese!) on a slice of GF bread, or make into meatballs!

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