Let’s talk burgers, shall we? I’m a firm believer in one kind of burger: a big juicy hamburger, preferably smothered in cheese, possibly with bacon, and definitely with a pickle on top. Then, I met my husband. I truly don’t remember having any other type of “burger” before him. M is devoted to the turkey burger and I can pretty much take the winning bet that if a restaurant offers a grilled chicken sandwich of some kind, he’s going to order it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, M will raise a regular ole beefy hamburger with the best of us, but he’s definitely opened my eyes to other burger possibilities. About a year ago I tried my hand at making homemade turkey burgers for the first time. (There us something about the frozen kind that is really unappealing to me.) My turkey burgers came out good, but not something I was dying to repeat. I was content with the occasional burger out, or as mandated by certain holidays.
Then I stumbled across this recipe. My mind started spinning. Since it was chicken, it didn’t count as “unhealthy” by our new eating standards. A whole wheat bun could be used as well as whole wheat bread crumbs. And, I still hadn’t worked up the courage to try out my Kitchenaid Food Grinder (affiliate link) that I received as a shower gift. So rather than purchasing ground chicken at 6.99 per pound, I opted to buy some boneless skinless chicken thighs at $4 per pound and grind them up myself. And that, my friends, is where life changed. Do you know how easy and delicious freshly ground meat is? Me neither, until today. And I don’t know why I was so scared to try grinding it myself because it is really quite easy.
Let’s do a quick how-to on the food grinder since I spent what probably amounts to several hours researching what the heck to do. I’ll save you some time.
1. Place the grinder in the freezer, as well as the protein you are going to use. Allow it to get really, really cold. My chicken was partially frozen by the time I ground it. That’s good.
2. Attach the grinder to the component hub of your stand mixer. Attach the large grinding plate to the front of the grinder. Place a bowl underneath the grinder.
3. For the first use: take a piece of bread and feed it through the tube. Turn the mixer on speed 4 and allow the bread to grind. Some people report that the grinder leaks some manufacturing lubricant the first grind, and this will clear anything out before you use your more expensive meat. You could also grind an onion or potato if you don’t have bread handy. If the bread crumbs are clean, you can pop them in the freezer to use in the future.
4. Feed your protein through the grinder.
Looks just like the stuff you buy, right?
That’s it. Since I was doing chicken thighs that already had a good amount of fat, I didn’t add any additional fat to my mixture. You may need to if you are using a leaner protein like chicken breasts. Try a combination of chicken breasts or thighs, or you could do chicken breasts and grind in some slab bacon. Hmmm…
I reground about half of my chicken thighs using the small grind plate so that they would stick together better. You can see the difference in texture from the photo above.
At this point, I portioned out my ground chicken into half-pound portions. 1.6 pounds of chicken thighs yielded 3 half-pound portions, so the loss was pretty minimal. Two portions went into the freezer and the other portion was used to make the burgers. To the ground chicken, I added 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs and 1/4 of fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (they were in the freezer).
I then added my seasonings. 1/3 of a minced onion (I just ran it through the food grinder after the chicken), salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and homemade ranch mix.
The homemade ranch mix was onion powder, dried minced garlic, dill weed, parsley, salt, pepper, fresh minced onion and fresh chives. Half went in the burgers and the other half was mixed with mayo for the buns.
Once all the seasonings were added to the ground chicken, I mixed it together and formed two 1/4 pound patties.
Place the patties on a preheated grill or grill pan and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Top with your favorite burger toppings. Here, ranch mayo, tomato, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and romaine. We had an arugula salad on the side, along with baked sweet potato chips. One day, I hope to bring you that recipe. I’m still working on perfecting it…
- 1/2 pound ground chicken
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1/2 onion, minced, divided
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 3 tablespoons of ranch mix (recipe follows)
- Whole wheat hamburger buns
- Burger toppings of choice (recommended: tomatoes, mushrooms, lettuce, cheddar cheese)
- Ranch Mix
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (dried or fresh)
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh onion
- 1 tablespoon chives, fresh or dried
- Place ground chicken in a small bowl. Add panko and whole wheat bread crumbs.
- Add seasonings and half of the ranch mix.
- Mix and form two 1/4 pound patties.
- Place the patties on a preheated grill or grill pan and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Top with your favorite burger toppings.
- To the remaining ranch mix, add two tablespoons of mayonnaise and stir to combine. Use as a spread for the buns. Or, add sour cream or greek yogurt to the ranch mix and use for vegetables.