Here's the issue: Not only am I flat-out broke (so cant go out even to Carl's Jr.) but also my husband doesnt eat beef- so I dont cook these at home. The next option for me was chicken, which judging by the stuff at fast food restuarants, makes for pretty boring burgers.
Unless... I would invent my own burgers at home! Which is exactly what I did- it turned out fabulous as well, so I am now enthu about trying more variations of the chicken burger at home :)
For the Burger:
1 lb of ground chicken- this should not be too lean, since very lean meat wont bind well.
1/2 a jalapeno, minced fine (or more than 1/2 if you are so inclined)
1 cup finely julienned mushrooms
1-2 tbsps soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Whole wheat burger buns (or some thick cut sourdough bread)
I used these add-ons, but you can pick and choose per preference:
Thinly sliced tomatoes, red onions (grilled or fresh), baby spinach leaves.
Gently mix together all the ingredients "For the Burger." At this point, it is prefereable that you leave the mixture in the fridge overnight, to let the flavors develop. If you dont have the time, the flavors will just be more subtle than you expect. The mixture may be refrigerated for about a week in a covered air-tight box without spoilage.
When ready to cook, leave the box with the mixture on your kitchen counter for an hour, to bring to room temprature. DO NOT put under hot water to hasten the process- BAD BAD idea. You may end up part cooking/boiling the meat in the process, and may encourage bacteria.
Heat your grill to 400degrees.
While the grill heats, make your patties- this mixture will yield about 3 huge or 4 medium sized patties.
Now place a saute pan on your stove, throw spray on some olive oil, and once the pan is hot, brown your patties on both sides at high heat, till golden. Yes I know we just heated a grill- that comes later. at this point, we just want to get a nice color to our patties, not cook them.
Do not, at any point of time, press down on the patties with your spatula. Turn them gently.
Once golden, shift the patties to the heated grill, reduce the temperature of the grill to about 380, cover the grill-top and walk away for 5 minutes. We had gone to the stove top to get color, and then move to the grill to get grill marks, and release excess fat.The timing is a bit iffy on this, as the cooking time is very dependent on your grill's capabilities. When in doubt, keep in mind that poultry is cooked when the internal temperature is at 175F/80C. So feel free to indulge in a food thermometer, or eyeball it, if confident.
While the burgers were on the grill, if using buns, lightly heat or toast to a golden if using sourdough- or whatever strikes your fancy.
My burgers were done in 5 minutes, and I made sure they were done by letting them rest for another 5 minutes, then piercing their centers with a very fine-bladed knife. The 5 minutes of rest help seal in the juices, keeping the patty moist and flavorful inside, but crispy outside. Piercing the patty should yield a small amount of clear juices, not pink.
Slather on your favorite mustard on your bread/bun, add the tomato, then the onion, followed by the patty and the spinach leaves on top, finishing off with a final slice of bread/bun.
I could have also used minced olives and hydrated sundried tomatoes to the chicken mixture- or golden-fried garlic. What would you add?