Most chicken burgers suffer from a dry, mealy texture, qualities that don't quite scream summer grilling fun.
Blame the bird. Ground chicken generally has little or no fat. So by the time you're done manhandling it into a patty and tossing it on the grill, you end up with a pretty forgettable burger. You could keep it moist by adding cheese. Of course, if you're just adding saturated fat, why not just do a beef burger?
But I recently learned a trick from Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, that fixes the flaw.
When Kimball makes beef burgers, he skips ground beef and instead chops (note that I didn't say grinds) his own sirloin and beef ribs in a food processor. The result is a magnificently chunky, moist burger. I decided to try the same technique with chicken breasts.
The result was great. The burgers were delicious and moist. And that's because, like Kimball's beef burgers, mine were made from chunks of chicken, not ground meat.
The catch is that, also like Kimball's burgers, before cooking my chicken burgers were very moist and delicate. When you form the patties, they will seem gloopy. Rest assured, once they hit the grill, they firm up fine and flip with no trouble.
I flavored this burger with curry powder and topped it with sliced avocado, but both could easily be left out for a more traditional taste.
Curried Chicken Burgerswith Chive Mayo
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
4 hamburger buns
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
Heat a grill to medium. Oil the grates, or coat them with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ginger and chives. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and curry powder.
In a food processor, pulse the chicken breasts until well chopped but still chunky, about 10 seconds total. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again if any large pieces remain. Transfer the chopped chicken to the bowl with the egg mixture, then mix well.
Form the meat into 4 loose patties. They will be moist and not hold together well.
Use a spatula to carefully place the burgers on the grill and cook, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the burgers – they should be firm enough to move easily now – and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until an instant thermometer reads 165 F at the thickest part of the burgers.
To serve, place each burger on a bun, then top with mayonnaise and avocado.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 400 calories; 124 calories from fat; 14 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 132 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 39 g protein; 2 g fiber; 746 mg sodium.