Saturday, July 13, 2013

BBQ Burgers: Greek Turkey and Marinated Portabello Mushroom

So I am sitting here in my office trying out my newest creation: Greek Turkey burgers with spinach. I just finished making 16 burger patties, well 18, but I decided I had better cook a couple to try them out before I fed them to my family...and I mean my WHOLE family. We are having the annual summer family picnic tomorrow with all my six brothers and two sisters and their offspring and significant others. Counting my three children, there were 18 first cousins, and now they are having children, so since I am a grand-aunt, I have lost count of the numbers (I think it is 14 grand nephews and nieces). We also invited some family friends and siblings of in-laws and so forth, so there will be a LOT of peoples there. I am not even counting on 100% attendance...hoping, like Mom always did, but not counting on it. 

My office is the living room. I am blogging, watching cooking shows and sampling the turkey burgers I just mixed up for tomorrow's family picnic. Turkey, spinach and Greek seasonings--not bad! Not bad at all! : )
I love to cook for a big crowd. I used to have a big electric roaster that held four gallons of chili beans that we used for all of our big barbecues. For some reason at one point in my life where I needed to downsize, I decided I could live without that. Now that my life has taken a turn for the better and I have a bigger house and a bigger storage shed and all, I want my roaster back. I think I gave it to cousin Bobby, and now he is in Oregon, probably making good use of it. I can probably pick one up at the thrift store...I'll keep an eye out!

I do still own a big stainless steel mixing bowl. Actually, it was my Mom's. She put her name on the bottom of it with masking tape, and it's still on there. That's nice, because it's like she is helping me prepare for the party. She loved nothing better than having a big dinner with all her children and grandchildren around. 

Anyway, since Lee and I are the hosts for the picnic, we get to pick the menu. Last year it was a chicken barbecue. This year it is hamburgers: beef, turkey and even portabello mushrooms for the vegetarians in the bunch. We do the main dish and let everyone else bring sides and salads and desserts. Works out pretty good that way. It's the day before the picnic and my job is to make all the burgers patties up with seasonings incorporated into the meat mix. Tomorrow it will be Lee's job to cook them on the barbecue pit.

Lee made up a super secret seasoning blend for his beef burgers by perusing all the various jars in my spice cabinet. I am pretty sure it has salt, pepper, granulated garlic and Italian seasonings in it, but he wouldn't tell me the rest. I tried looking over his shoulder as he was mixing it up, but he kept the jar labels covered and wouldn't let me see. I know one bottle had a black lid, so I peeked after he left for work and it was dried chives. I got out the big metal mixing bowl and dumped in 12 pounds of ground beef. I am hoping to come out with 48 burger patties, so I use my hamburger press to make uniform-size patties. I weighed one and it came out to 5 oz. or just over a 1/4 pound patty. I kept adding Lee's seasoning blend and mixing it into the hamburger with my hands. He also said to add some Worchestershire sauce, so I did. I pressed out patty after patty, filling up two big baking sheets, two burger-layers high. I ended up with 42 patties, so I guess they are just a little on the large size, which I am sure won't hurt a bit.

Then I turned to the ground turkey. We are offering a variety of burgers since everyone's tastes are so different. My girls always prefer chicken or turkey to beef, I guess because they figure it is lower in fat. I was that way for a while, but I found that after going for several years without a resident barbecuer in the house, I missed beef tri-tip barbecued over oak wood. Now I have Lee and he likes his barbecued tri-tip and burgers. We try to have nice balance of chicken, beef and fish every week in our dinner menu (which is also our lunch menu since we pack up the leftovers for lunches).

I used three 1-1/2 pound packages of ground turkey for a total of 4-1/2 pounds of meat. I hope to end up with about 18 patties. I have a recipe for Greek burgers that calls for feta cheese, but since we have cheese slices to put on each burger when we cook them, I think I will leave out the feta. I am, however, putting in the chopped spinach that I got from SLO Veg, because when I mentioned it to my daughter she seemed really excited about that addition. The spinach will give people a clue that it's turkey, not beef. I used a Greek seasoning blend that I picked up at Cost Plus World Market that has oregano, garlic, lemon peel, dill weed and dill seed, chili flakes, spearmint leaf, cinnamon, mace and chervil. It's a pretty fine grind spice mix, so I also added in more flaked oregano, dill and mint and some garlic salt and pepper. I bound it together with two eggs and mixed in two cups of chopped spinach and a cup of oatmeal.
Lastly, I bought some portabello mushrooms for the vegetarians in the bunch. I guess I will hit them with some kind of marinade, maybe Tamari and lemon juice, and grill them like a burger patty. Probably need to use separate tongs and a separate grill so the meat juices don't cross-contaminate the vegetables. I really need to learn more about that stuff.



4-1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 tsp Greek Mediterranean seasoning
1 Tbs garlic salt
1 tsp each flaked dill, oregano and mint
1 tsp pepper
2 eggs
2 cups spinach, chopped into small bits
1 cup oatmeal, slow cooking kind
*optional: 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Mix the seasonings together in a small prep bowl. Using your hands, add the seasoning to the ground turkey and incorporate well. Add the eggs, spinach and oatmeal and combine into the meat mixture. Form patties that are about 1/4 each. Grill until cooked through. Top with cheese slices, preferably swiss or provolone.  
*Option: mix Feta cheese into the meat and leave off the sliced cheeses (or not).
 Makes about 18 burgers.



10 Portabello mushrooms
1/2 cup olive oil
5 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Using a half pint jelly jar to mix up marinade ingredients. About 20 minutes before grilling, pour marinade over mushrooms in a large bowl or use a gallon-size zip lock baggie and let them marinate for 15 minutes. Grill for 5 minutes on each side and serve with your favorite burger condiments.
 Makes 10 mushroom burgers.

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