Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

     If you have spent anytime around here, you’ve probably figured out my love for wings and buffalo wings in particular. What’s not to like about them? Spicy hot with a lil twang from the vinegar and cooled off by a dip in either Ranch or Bleu Cheese. Yup, definitely gotta be one of my favorite things to eat.

     I think it might have been Thursday night, I was watching something and they were talking about meatballs and all the different kinds. How just about every culture has some form of meatball, be it beef or chicken or lamb or others. And how they are all seasoned differently. The gears in my brain got to spinning and I started thinking of a buffalo chicken meatball. And wouldn’t it be great to serve it as a slider?

     I got up Friday morning and the thought of a buffalo chicken meatball slider was still in my head. Doing some research online showed that I was not the only person who had thought of this genius idea. Plenty of people had done them before (Well, at least the meatball part. Not everybody took it and made a slider out of it.) From people like Rachel Ray to Martha Stuart to Guy Fieri, not to mention plenty of bloggers. So armed with a few recipes, I sat down to come up with my own version.

Turkey meatballs ready for the grill

Turkey meatballs ready for the grill

     Ok, ok…by this point you are probably wondering why the post has turkey in it and I keep talking about Buffalo chicken. Even the best of plans often get derailed. It seems to happen to me at the grocery store. I walk in armed with a list of things I need to get only to find out they are out of or don’t carry an ingredient. Does this happen to you? Doesn’t it just piss you off really irritate you? The store didn’t have any ground chicken. Not only did they not have ground chicken, they didn’t have boneless chicken thighs. I should mention I put off going to the grocery store till the last minute. Sure, I can debone a thigh. And I could put it through my grinder or mince it in a food processor. It just didn’t seem like it was worth the trouble to grind up one pound of chicken, not to mention the time it would take. So instead, a package of 85/15 ground turkey jumped into my cart.

Onto the Egg using a raised grate at 400F.

Onto the Egg using a raised grate at 400F.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey, 85/15 (or chicken if you can find it, not leaner than 85%)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Buffalo sauce (same one I use on my Buffalo Chicken Wings)

  • 1/2 cup Frank’s sauce (or other hot sauce, I just don’t like Tabasco, too vinegary IMHO)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed

Bleu Cheese Sauce

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper to taste
Off the grill

Off the grill

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the bleu cheese sauce, taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Place sauce in fridge to cool while cooking the meatballs.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and red pepper. Grate (yes, that is not a typo) 3/4 to 1/2 an onion into the mixture (grating it releases moisture that will help keep the meatballs moist and will give it that onion flavor without the crunch). Using a garlic press, add the two garlic cloves. Mix until just combined.
  3. If you decide to make sliders, form the mixture into 8 meatballs. These will be just large enough for slider buns. If just making meatballs as an appetizer, form them into bite sized meatballs.
  4. Place the meatballs into the refrigerator to set up for about 30 minutes. While waiting, preheat your grill or oven to 400F. If using a BGE or other Kamado style grill, you will want to set it up for a direct cook with a raised grate around the felt line. For other grills, you will want  a direct and indirect area in case you need to move meatballs due to flare ups.
  5. After 30 minutes, place your meatballs on the grill. Slider sized ones will take about 20 minutes to cook, rotating halfway through to ensure even cooking. Smaller, bite sized meatballs will take less time. The meatballs are ready when they reach 165F. (If you like your buns toasted, it would be a good idea to toss them on when the meatballs are almost done. It will only take a few minutes per side)
  6. While meatballs are cooking, add the ingredients for the Buffalo sauce to a skillet and allow to simmer.
  7. When meatballs are done, place them in the skillet and coat with Buffalo sauce.
  8. Build your sliders with the Buffalo turkey meatballs and top with plenty of bleu cheese sauce.
Buffalo turkey meatball sliders

Buffalo turkey meatball sliders

     I was really quite surprised with these. I almost tossed the whole idea when I couldn’t find ground chicken at the store. I was worried that the turkey would be bland and dry, but I forged ahead anyway and they came out quite good. They weren’t bland or dry. My brother joined me for dinner and even though he skipped the Buffalo sauce (He doesn’t like it. Sometimes I’m not sure we are related), he said they were very tasty and juicy. Yeah, they didn’t have the crispy skin of a chicken wing (nor the mess) but all the flavors were still there.  A great alternative to wings. I’m really thinking they might make it on to the Superbowl menu (or we’ll bring them along with us if we go to somebody’s house).

Served with a side of 'maters and mozzarella cheese.

Served with a side of ‘maters and mozzarella cheese.

     There is only one thing I think I would do differently with this recipe next time. I think I would take some of the Buffalo sauce and add it to the meatball mixture before forming them to bring more of the Buffalo flavor through out. I thought of doing it originally, but I had my brother to think about. Other than that, I was quite pleased.

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