May 3, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

My husband loves chicken parmesan. Me…not so much.

In theory, chicken parmesan sounds good. Crisp, breaded chicken, bright tomato sauce and gooey cheese. But the reality is usually closer to soggy chicken, bland tomato sauce and a tasteless cheese coating that feels like plastic.

If I’m going to consume something that’s as fat- and calorie-laden as chicken parmesan, it better be worth it (see Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce)!

This recipe takes the basic flavors of chicken parmesan and transforms them into a lighter, healthier burger. Instead of a breaded, fried chicken cutlet you start with lean ground chicken (or turkey). Rather than slathering on the tomato sauce and cheese, you use them more sparingly as condiments. And the fresh thyme and basil really brighten up the flavors.

You end up with a burger that’s a lot lighter and fresher than the classic but still satisfies your chicken parm craving.

The first step is combining the ground chicken (or turkey) with the marinara sauce, thyme, salt and black pepper.

I ended up with a mixture that was a lot moister and looser than a typical burger mixture.

Shape the meat into four patties. Again, these patties are really loose. I refrigerated them for 15 minutes to firm them up, but they were still pretty loose when I took them out of the fridge. Cook the patties on a preheated pan for 4 minutes. A lot of liquid will escape from the patties. Don’t worry, this is just water from the marinara sauce. Flip the patties over. Mine held together pretty well. 

Then put the pan in the preheated oven and let the burgers cook for about 10-12 minutes until they are cooked through. When you remove the pan from the oven you’ll notice a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan. I just tipped the pan and let most of the liquid drain out into the sink.

Top the burgers with cheese. I used slices of fresh mozzarella but you could use shredded cheese too. You could also use parmesan in addition to the mozzarella cheese to really bring home the flavors of chicken parmesan. Place the pan back in the oven for a minute or two until the cheese melts.

Now for the toppings! You already put the cheese on the burgers. Now it’s time to layer on some marinara sauce and basil.

For a nice presentation, place of couple of basil leaves on the bottom of your toasted bun and top with a burger and the cheese. Spoon some marinara sauce on top. Then add a few more basil leaves and finally the bun top.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

4 hamburger buns
1 lb ground turkey
2/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons jarred marinara sauce, divided
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Olive oil
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
8 basil leaves

1.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.      Combine chicken, 2/3 cup marinara sauce, thyme, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Divide into 4 portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty.
3.      Toast buns in toaster oven. Set aside.
4.      Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Add patties to pan; cook for 4 minutes. Turn patties, and place pan in oven. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through.
5.      Top each patty with one slice of cheese. Bake 1-2 minutes, until cheese melts.
6.      Layer bottom half of each roll with 2 basil leaves, 1 patty, 1 tablespoon marinara, 2 basil leaves, and bun top.

 Serves 4

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