We have been eating a lot of turkey lately. It started while we were on vacation in Italy; the nearest supermarket usually had slices of turkey breast and it made a nice change from the chicken breasts that show up on our menu with tedious frequency. (The Critic is a (chicken) breast man.) The turkey breasts not only made a change for us, but also made good substitutes in a lot of Italian recipes calling for thin veal cutlets. Like veal, they go very well with a fresh tomato sauce or bacon. When pounded, they are tender as veal. And when you run out of veal recipes, of course, there are the chicken ones. Say, for example, pollo alla diavola. Actually, in this case, I would argue that turkey works better than chicken if you have already decided to depart from the original recipe and grill cutlets instead of a whole bird. Turkey stands up better - both in terms of flavour and texture - to a grill than its tender cousin, the chicken. And it also stands up admirably to the strong garlic and pepper flavours. In fact, if you are not prepared to spatchcock a whole chicken and do it properly (don't you just love the word spatchcock?) I would argue that this is the best way to get the same basic effect. And then if you put it in a bun with a bit of mayonnaise and a slice of tomato, you really have grilling heaven. Trust me.
I based my recipe on the one in this cookbook which I have mentioned before. The first time I made it, in Italy, we just had the turkey cutlets with a side of pasta with garlic butter and Parmesan. Back in Paris, I decided to slap the cutlets into a hamburger bun and the result was even better. I would argue, in fact, that turkey burgers have a huge advantage over chicken ones as the cutlets are sold sliced at a uniform thickness and thus adapt better to being put in a bun. The chicken burgers I make tend to be messier to make and to eat.
Turkey Diavola Burgers
2-3 turkey cutlets
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2-3 dried red peppers (to taste - depending on how hot the peppers are and how hot you like your food)
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, pressed
4-6 small sage leaves, chopped finely
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let them marinate for half an hour or more in the refrigerator. Heat up the grill. Slap the cutlets on the grill and smear the remaining garlic/spices/onion on the meat. Grill for a few minutes and then turn. In the meantime, toast a few hamburger buns and slice a tomato. Serve on the buns with tomato and mayonnaise. If you have some real he-men for dinner you can add a sliced jalepeno but if your marinade is properly hot you won't need it. You can also (as I did) grill a few shallots at the same time as the turkey and slice them up to add to the burger. It goes well with the garlicky meat and makes a nice change from onion slices.
Enjoy. With napkins to catch the juice...and perhaps a tomato salad?