Mushroom Chicken Burgers and Bake-Fries

{a Foodwhirl Re-run}

Years ago, when the fat-free fad was all the rage (oh, how very far we’ve come) I got on a turkey-burger kick using 99% fat free ground turkey breast.  The problem with 99% fat free anything is that it has very little fat (duh), which means very little moisture (or flavor, for that matter).  So, I devised a way to reintroduce moisture to the mix without increasing the fat content – ground mushrooms.

What are mushrooms, really, other than tasty little edible sponges?  If you’ve ever ground them into a duxelles, then you know that they have a tremendous amount of water (that’s how they make that paste-like consistency).

So, I thought, they would be excellent mixed in with some ground turkey breast.  And guess what?  They were!

Since then, I’ve applied this same technique to meatloaf, chicken burgers, meatballs – the options are really limitless.  For our family dinner on Friday, though, it was chicken burgers (with some spinach added in for extra nutritional value).  This is a great way to get your kids to eat a healthier version of a food they probably already love.  You could even add other vegetables (shredded carrots or zucchini would be great here, too)

Begin by assembling your ingredients – 1 pound of chicken breast, ground; 8 oz. white or cremini mushrooms; 2-3 cups raw spinach; 2-3 sprigs of thyme; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins used to make a “white wine Worcestershire sauce” that was perfect in this recipe; however, they’ve since started calling it Worcestershire sauce for chicken, or something like that, and it’s not as good, so I’m just using plain old Worcestershire sauce here).

Pulse the mushrooms in the food processor (or blender) until finely ground, but not a paste – be careful not to take them too far.  Removed these to a separate work bowl.  Repeat with the spinach.  Add the spinach and the chicken to the mushrooms and mix by hand – do not overwork.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and thyme.

Form the mixture into patties and salt and pepper both sides.  It will be a much looser mixture than regular ground beef might be, but it will hold together if you’re careful in handling.  Cook in a cast-iron skillet that has been sprayed with olive oil just to coat.  Make sure to cook them long enough on both sides to ensure thorough done-ness (this is raw poultry, after all – no medium-rare burgers here!).  This should result in a nice char on the outside, and a moist, tender interior.

Serve on whole-wheat buns with your favorite burger toppings (I chose some cheese and avocado).

As a side, I did a simple yet delicious baked french-fry.

Simply take four medium russet potatoes that have been scrubbed to remove any dirt.  Slice them into 1/2 inch discs, and then again into 1/2 inch matchsticks.  Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been liberally coated with vegetable oil and toss them around to coat.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and toss to distribute evenly.  Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until you’ve achieved a lovely golden-brown color.


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