Everyone’s trying to make healthier choices these days. Here’s one more way: this summer, when it comes to burgers, look beyond beef.
Gone are the days when turkey or veggie burgers were fringe, and grilling them meant you were destined for a meal of dry, chalky hockey pucks. Today, alternative burgers — or alt-burgers, as I like to call them — are as common as ketchup. And you won’t believe how good they can taste.
You can make a burger out of just about anything: turkey, vegetables, pork, sausage, chicken — even grains. Add a little spice, a few chopped-up vegetables, maybe some herbs, and you’ve got yourself a great dinner.
I’m not advocating giving up beef burgers completely. In fact, one of my favorite alt-burgers is made with a mixture of beef and lamb. Topped with cheddar and a caper-remoulade made with mayo, it’s certainly not for the calorie-counter.
But another of my favorite alt-burgers uses ground turkey and three different vegetables — zucchini, carrots and mushrooms, which are shredded in the food processor. It is a variation on a recipe from a spa in Utah, and comes in at somewhere around 300 calories (without the bun). I promise — it explodes with flavor.
When it comes to flavor, I’m not the only one turning my attention away from beef.
At Turco’s in Yorktown Heights, for example, Vincent Mastrangelo, manager of the meat department, says he sells about 1,000 chicken burgers a week. They’re seasoned with onions and red, yellow and green peppers and stuffed with mozzarella, and everyone loves them.
“It’s not your dreary, everyday just-salt-and-pepper burger,” he says. “You don’t have to add ketchup and everything else to them — they just ooze off your grill.”
At Mount Kisco Seafood, you can get tuna burgers and salmon burgers, and at Larchmont Meateria, owners Flora and Tom Guglielmo and their son, T.J., sell organic buffalo burgers. (Those are great with just a dash of Worcestershire.)
Paul Chietro, owner of Mini’s Prime Meats in Bronxville, offers lamb burgers — “Those are a big seller during the summer,” he says —?and sausage burgers (cheese and parsley, and chicken-apple sausage).
Now purists may say that, technically, all these “burgers,” are sausages, just shaped into burger-size patties.
And that may be; you define sausage as a food made from ground meat and spices or herbs.
But to me, alt-burgers are as much fun to say as they are to eat. So I plan on calling them what I wish. And once you taste them, I know you’ll agree. Next thing you know, you’ll be looking beyond beef all summer long.