Healthy cooking lessons continue though turkey burger underwhelms

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By: Tommie Lee

Tommie Lee

In a perfect world, every meal turns out exactly like you imagined.

We do not live in that world. If you are lucky, though, you have the opportunity to fine-tune your menu choices as you go. You have to be open to discovering what works, what doesn’t work and what can improved upon.

The decision was made at the supermarket last weekend to pick up some preformed Jennie-O turkey burger patties. We also picked up the makings of a simple salad, some sort of healthy bun-like things Kim saw advertised somewhere and some locally grown corn on the cob still in the husks for grilling. We enjoy the rice mix we wrote about last time and it might have worked well with this meal, but we wanted to change things up a bit.

I grew up with a father who was devoted to his charcoal grill. Like my father, I have grilled in 10-degree weather during a light snowfall. I have grilled in wind and rain. There is something about the smell of meat over glowing briquettes with a pair of tongs in one hand and a beer in the other that makes me imagine what heaven must be like. But, I digress.

Like my father, I have grilled in 10-degree weather during a light snowfall.

What I’m trying to say is I know my way around the grill. It’s the one thing I can do in terms of cooking. I love to do it and my wife enjoys what I do. Once we established the teamwork aspect (she spices and preps, I make sure nothing burns or is undercooked), we turned the grill into a solid contributor of our dinner planning.

One particular Monday night was a challenge of my grilling virility. A healthy bit of rain sliced through our area and when it seemed to be dying down, I went out to fire up Big Bertha — the fabulous new charcoal grill I received for Father’s Day and my birthday this year (the dates were back-to-back this year and it was a substantial gift).

Mother Nature responded with a steady rain. Not so much heavy as it was constant and saturating. It was both distracting and only the tip of the annoying iceberg.

The preformed patties did not perform well on the grill. Putting it on foil might have been a better plan, perhaps it would have been juicier. Instead, it turned out dry and underwhelming, which is mildly funny considering it was cooked in the rain. The Beloved Kim says next time, we will buy the ground turkey and form the patties ourselves with a little bit of this and that to keep them from being so dry, bland and uninteresting. 

Had I bothered to do a little research online, I would have grilled the corn in-husk differently. Instead, it took forever and had to be finished in the oven. I hate admitting a grilling failure, but Monday was certainly one of those on both sides of the coin.

The moral of the story? Learn from your mistakes. The meal still wasn’t bad, but it was underwhelming.

We used Aunt Millie’s 8-Grain Bread Slimwiches buns, 90 calories each, for the turkey burger patties. I wasn’t particularly crazy about the buns myself, but Kim liked them. Neither of us cared for the Jennie-O patties. As I mentioned before, they dried out quickly on the grill and didn’t have much flavor at all, even after seasoning.

The salad was a mix of organic baby spinach leaves, Dole’s Just Lettuce, organic cherry tomatoes and Oscar Meyer Real Bacon Bits. I added imitation crab meat and a little Kraft Italian Blend grated cheese to mine. Kim also added a tablespoon of Hidden Valley Ranch Light Buttermilk dressing. I don’t do dressing on my salad and ate it plain. 

We remain undaunted and refuse to allow this experience sour us on Jennie-O, a respected brand providing healthy alternatives and options for many people. They have a thorough website loaded with ideas that I never thought to look at before “The Dinner That Must Not Be Named.” We intend to make our own turkey burger patties in the future with their ground turkey (and perhaps some of their tips), and we have a package of Jennie-O Italian Sausages in the freezer just begging to be grilled. Probably tonight, now that I think about it.

To follow Tommie Lee and The Beloved Kim on their journey to eat healthier, sign up for the Healthy Appetite email newsletter. You can also catch Tommie Lee on the Truth Radio Early Edition 1340 AM, weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. and follow him on Twitter @heytommie.
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