FETA AND MOZZARELLA–STUFFED CHICKEN BURGERS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO AIOLI
I tested this recipe for my parents and got a big thumbs-up. This was a huge feat, because my mom typically does not like chicken burgers. Ground chicken is a great alternative to beef, as it has less fat and cholesterol. But ground chicken can be boring and dry. It needs a little love to make it shine. I did several things to liven up the ground chicken for this recipe. For starters, I used a combination of ground chicken and chicken sausage—the addition of a little sausage adds flavor and moisture to the lean ground chicken. Next, I used two different kinds of breadcrumbs to add texture and flavor. Third, I stuffed these burgers with feta and fresh mozzarella, so that when you bite into them you find a gooey, delicious surprise. Finally, I topped these burgers with a creamy, bright and bold sun-dried tomato aioli. These burgers are anything but boring!
YIELD: 4 BURGERS
1 lb (454 g) 93 percent lean ground chicken
8 oz (227 g) ground Italian chicken sausage
⅓ cup (30 g) whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
½ cup (61 g) Italian breadcrumbs
1 large egg
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 (½” [13-mm])-thick round slices fresh mozzarella cheese
½ cup (75 g) crumbled feta cheese, divided
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 whole-wheat or brioche buns
1 cup (20 g) arugula
Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
⅓ cup (73 g) olive oil mayo
2 tbsp (36 g) plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup (28 g) julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
To make the burgers, combine the ground chicken, chicken sausage, panko breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix the ingredients together. Allow the burger mixture to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Divide the burger mixture into four portions. The mixture will be slightly sticky, but this is normal. Take each portion and make two thin patties that are larger in circumference than the slices of mozzarella cheese. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of a patty. Add 1 tablespoon (10 g) of the feta cheese on top of the mozzarella. Place the other patty on top and seal the sides so the patties become one burger and enclose the cheeses. Repeat this process until you have four stuffed burgers.
Place the burgers in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sun-dried tomato aioli by combining the mayo, yogurt, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and black pepper in a food processor. Process the ingredients until the sun-dried tomatoes are broken down into small pieces. Set the aioli aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Grease a medium baking sheet.
Heat 1½ tablespoons (23 ml) of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until a golden-brown crust forms on each side. Transfer the burgers to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the burgers in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until their internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.
Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet so the chicken juices are removed. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon (7 ml) of oil and return the skillet to medium heat.
Toast the buns in the skillet for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until both sides are golden brown. Slather each of the buns with the sun-dried tomato aioli. Top the bottom bun with the arugula, a burger patty and the remaining feta, if desired, then top the burger with the other half of the bun.