Do you ever overstock your freezer with a particular item, and suddenly realize you need to use it NOW? Early fall and spring are when I strategize “Freezer Evacuations.” This is when I reassess my freezer stock, and plan our menus aggressively, to use what’s
languishing hanging out in the freezer.
We eat seasonally, and the contents of my freezer reflects this. Additionally, food can’t be stored indefinitely in the freezer – so an inventory list, and a strategy to use it (aka meal calendar) are critical. I keep mine on an Excel spread sheet; ticking off items exiting the freezer. Posting weekly menus at the bottom of our family calendar ensures I make a grocery list and actually
mostly cook what I plan each day.
Operation evacuation showed me I needed to move a lot of chicken breast – and fast! Since stocking the freezer with homemade hamburgers is one of my meal saver strategies, why not create a burger out of chicken? We have a meat grinder /sausage stuffer – since I am a fanatical collector of kitchen machines – but if you want to unload extra chicken breast, and don’t have a meat grinder – chop the chicken into cubes and pulse it in your food processor until it attains a choppy consistency.
I was in the mood for sage – so I got out my Penzy’s Whole Leaf Sage – which I love, love, love!
Dijon mustard, shallots and celery felt like the perfect back up singers – and I had them in stock to boot!
Mince your shallots
And your celery . . .
Sauté the sage, shallots and celery in olive oil in a medium-large skillet. Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt and continue to sauté.
Once the sage mixture is cooked and slightly cooled, fold it into your chicken mixture, and gently combine. Like cake – too much mixing makes tough meatballs and burgers! Make sure to TASTE your meat mixture and correct the seasoning before you are stuck with a whole batch of off-seasoned burgers! Cook a teaspoon sized pinch of turkey mixture in your skillet, adjust the seasoning, and taste; repeating until you are satisfied.
Then get your kitchen scale out and measure the meat out in 4 oz. (110g) increments.
If freezing, I use this very effective (and cheap) hamburger press. If using a press - lightly oil or use cooking spray if the burgers stick too much. You might want to try your technique on regular ground beef patties first, as this chicken mixture is much looser and takes a bit more patience.
When freezing burgers, I put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze, then transfer to a Ziploc bag. This way, the burgers don’t freeze together – so I can take out as many or few as I need.
I cook these burgers both in the pan and on the grill. I usually make flat, freeform patties in a skillet for dinner with part of the batch, and make pressed patties with the unused portion for the freezer.
Thinner patties take about five minutes in the pan (3 and 2 minutes per side). It’s easier to grill frozen patties. Grill completely frozen on medium, direct heat for 4 minutes per side. You might want to pre-oil your grill. By default (forgetfulness), I find a good metal spatula and a determined flipping technique will suffice in lieu of oiling the grill!
Our favorite way to eat chicken burgers is on toasted whole wheat pitas, with salad fixings and a slightly spicy chipotle yogurt sauce.
Chicken burgers are a nice change of pace from ground beef. The addition of sage and Dijon mustard creates bright, perky tasting burgers. Served in a whole grain pita, along with a “make your own salad” veggie plate and a semi-spicy yogurt dressing, you have a complete meal in a jiffy! Make a large batch – eat some now – freeze some for later! Recipe easily doubles.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 large shallots, minced
- 2 celery ribs, minced
- 2 tbsp. dried sage
- ½ tsp. sea salt flakes
- 5 lbs. (2.25 kg) ground chicken
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Additional sea salt flakes (if needed)
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra olive oil, if cooking in skillet
- Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a medium to large skillet.
- Add the shallots, celery, and dried sage.
- Sauté over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add ½ tsp. salt and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat; reserve and allow to slightly cool.
- Place ground chicken in a large bowl.
- Fold in the mustard and vegetable mixture; blending thoroughly until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Drop a teaspoon of your mixture into the hot pan, cook thoroughly, and taste. Salt chicken mixture more if needed, and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Cook another teaspoon of chicken mixture.
- If seasoning is correct, begin to divide the chicken mixture into 4 oz. (110 g) increments.
- Either freeform flat patties by hand, or use a hamburger press to make a more traditional burger.
- Stove top cooking recommended for non-frozen patties. Heat olive oil in a medium to large skillet. Sauté the patties 2-3 minutes on each side, until cooked through, and firm to the touch.
- Grill recommended for frozen patties. Grill on medium, direct heat for about 4 minutes per side. Pre-oil grill if desired. Make sure to flip with a good quality metal spatula and a sure hand.
- Freeze burgers on a parchment lined or non-stick cookie sheet, transferring to a Ziploc when completely frozen.