Chicken and turkey have a reputation for making dry burgers, leaving them open and available for futzing with in the hopes of making them not dry — maybe even flavorful. Dare I say delicious? That would be great, wouldn’t it?

These burgers, made with ground chicken, are not only juicy, but they have personality. They have pockets of gooey cheese, as well as browned, crispy cheese. They have singed, tender scallions. And they even pack a vegetable.

All that’s required of you is to chop up a bunch of broccoli and scallions, grate some very sharp cheddar, and mix it all into the ground meat. Form into patties, salt and pepper the outsides, and pan-fry until browned and cooked through. The additions thwart any chances of dryness, but also taste so good that you’d want to include them even if they weren’t problem-solvers.

Lean meats need moisture and fat to prevent them from drying out. The vegetable kingdom has lots of options that are full of moisture. Spinach and leafy herbs, cabbage, carrots and broccoli, among other vegetables, are all nearly 90 percent water. As they cook, they release their flavor and juices into what’s around them. If what’s around them is lean meat, that meat is getting added moisture. Ding ding ding.

This recipe liberates broccoli from the floret and instead has you finely chop both the frilly tops and sturdy stem. That way, in the time it takes the burger to cook, the small broccoli bits on the inside of the burger steam to tender and the bits on the surface of the patty brown as if they were roasted.

Perhaps my favorite part of the broccoli-cheddar chicken burger recipe is the cheese. The grated cheddar trapped inside the burger will melt and goo (like the sliced cheese you normally put on top of the burger), while the shreds on the outside will crisp like frico — or the cheese slice that dribbled down to the skillet surface.

The mix of flavors and textures belies just how little you did to get there. It’s the genius idea of food editor Emma Laperruque over at Food52, and follows the same thinking behind why some people add bacon or butter into their patties — fat adds flavor and moisture.

The same idea could be applied to any number of vegetables and dairy. You could mix ground chicken or turkey with grated carrot, garlic, cumin seed; eat that patty in a pita with a generous dollop of yogurt. Or make one in the spirit of spanakopita with spinach, dill, parsley, scallions and feta mixed in. And so on.

With broccoli, scallions and cheddar, we’ve set these burgers up for success, but there’s one last simple, important, but sneaky step: salt. Don’t worry about mixing salt into the meat itself. Instead, only salt the outsides of the patties right before cooking. That way, it doesn’t have a chance of drawing out moisture.

Phew! Dryness averted, yet again.

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Storage: Refrigerate leftover patties for up to 4 days.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 2 cups finely chopped broccoli head and stem (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 buns, for serving
  • Yellow or stone ground mustard, for serving (optional)
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving (optional)
  • Sliced tomato, for serving (optional)
  • Sliced pickles, for serving (optional)

Step 1

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the ground chicken, broccoli, cheddar and scallions until combined. Form 6 patties that are about a 1/2-inch wider than your buns.


Step 2

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the patties with salt and pepper, then add them to the skillet and cook until browned and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 4 minutes per side.


Step 3

While the patties are cooking, lightly toast the buns, if desired. Spread mustard on the buns. Transfer the patties to buns and top with lettuce, tomato and pickle, if using.


Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 burger on a bun with 2 teaspoons mustard, lettuce, tomato)

Calories: 411; Total Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 93 mg; Sodium: 529 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 26 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


From food writer Ali Slagle.

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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