Get a kick — or not — out of blue cheese-stuffed Buffalo burgers

I can’t let go of summer yet, so I thought I’d share one more burger recipe, but this time with a slightly spicy Buffalo theme.

A ground turkey or chicken mixture is wrapped around blue cheese and then grilled, baked or prepared on your stove before being topped with a little Buffalo sauce. It’s a familiar flavor — popular in spicy restaurant chicken wings.

I know some of you don’t like spicy food, but please don’t rule this burger out — you can enjoy it with or without the heat.

The recipe can be made with either turkey or chicken, I have used both and found the results to be similar.

It may come as no surprise that the trend has roots traced to Buffalo, New York. While there are several individuals who claim they invented the spicy wings, I found the story about the Anchor Bar to be one of the most consistent. Legend has it Frank and Teressa Bellissimo bought the bar in 1939. In 1964, they received a large delivery of chicken wings instead of the backs and necks they were expecting. Rather than letting them go to waste, Teressa broiled the wings and smothered them in a special sauce she made using butter, hot sauce and cayenne pepper. She served the wings with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing to help tame the heat.

Fast forward to the Buffalo Bills football team making it to the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons from 1990 to 1993. During those years, media outlets covering the team and city featured local highlights and food, launching the Buffalo wings phenomena.

There seems to be something “Buffalo” on almost every restaurant menu these days. Buffalo cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, pizza and, of course, wings, among others.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

I will admit to enjoying Buffalo-style heat and am glad Buffalo sauce is sold at most grocery stores so I can try my own creations at home. In all honesty, some in my house use Buffalo sauce like most of us use ketchup.

However, if the heat is too much for you, there are ways to enjoy Buffalo flavor without the kick. Try adding prepared Buffalo sauce to a little cream cheese or ranch dressing. The fat in both help to neutralize the “heat” while allowing the flavor to come through. A spread made from a little cream cheese and Buffalo sauce would be a delicious addition to this burger.




Blue cheese in the center imparts a nice surprise to Buffalo burgers.
– Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

The recipe calls for mashed carrots, but why? In this case, the carrots add both moisture and flavor. Some recipes only call for diced carrots for additional flavor, but mashing carrots adds both moisture and flavor. If preparing your own mashed carrots sounds like too much work, there is no shame in using prepared baby food pureed carrots as a shortcut.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

The recipe also includes crunchy celery for added texture, egg whites and panko to help hold everything together, and garlic and a little Buffalo sauce for added flavor.

The “cherry on the top” of this burger is the blue cheese surprise hidden inside. The meat mixture is wrapped around a tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles, so every delicious bite has blue cheese flavor. If this is not enough for you, feel free to add more on top as a garnish. And if blue cheese is not your thing, substitute a different cheese, perhaps some Gorgonzola or Monterey Jack. Just be sure it is completely encased in the meat mixture so none of it escapes during the cooking process.

Because not all ground turkey or chicken is created equal, I chose to make these burgers with a regular ground variety that includes both light and dark, as opposed to only ground breast meat. Ground turkey and chicken labeled as such contain both light and dark meat, which have more fat than the breast-only variety, making them more forgiving if they are overcooked. The burgers are equally delicious made with the ground breast, but be careful not to overcook them as they dry out quickly.

This burger offers the perfect blend of flavors for us Buffalo lovers and, with some easy adjustments, for those who want to dial down the spice. So, celebrate the last few weeks of summer, fire up your grill and start chopping the celery. A great burger is just minutes away.

• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge.


Buffalo sauce gives this turkey burger a kick, though it's easy to dial back the heat.


Buffalo sauce gives this turkey burger a kick, though it’s easy to dial back the heat.
– Courtesy of Penny Kazmier



Buffalo Style Burgers

½ cup grated carrots

1 pound ground turkey or chicken

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 celery stalk, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup Buffalo Hot Sauce, separated (I like Frank’s)

½ cup panko bread crumbs

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Vegetable oil

Hamburger buns

Iceberg lettuce

Blue cheese or ranch dressing if desired

Carrot and celery sticks (optional)

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine carrot slices with 2 tablespoons water; microwave on high, stopping and stirring every minute, until very tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool; mash carrots.

Combine turkey/chicken, egg whites, celery, garlic, salt, ¼ cup Buffalo sauce and bread crumbs to cooled carrots; mix to combine. Using a ½ cup measuring cup, portion mixture into patties one at a time. Press mixture into a 6-inch circle, place 1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese in center, and wrap perimeter over the top to encase the cheese. Form into patties and place on greased baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into remaining ½ cup Buffalo sauce until dissolved; set aside.

Grill/skillet: Brush grill rack or grill pan with vegetable oil. Grill patties over medium-high heat for 6 minutes; flip and grill 6 minutes more.

Oven: Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 15 minutes, turn and continue baking 10 minutes.

Makes 8 burgers

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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