Bonus column: Martha Stewart

The Detroit News

This classic summer meal gets a few tasty twists. Here are my tried-and-true recipes for beef, turkey and fish burgers:  all fully loaded, all fully delicious. So fire up the grill -- you'll flip for them.

When you serve hake burgers with all the trimmings, be prepared because people may come back for another round.


The Challenge: How to make the ubiquitous burger more delicious, more extraordinary and more unique. My suggestions: Try something other than beef for the patty. Add something unexpected. Load it up with flavor. Cook it over wood or charcoal. And, for a finishing touch, toast really good buns.

Personally, I am not a “grillmeister,” but when pressed I will gladly accept the challenge. I prefer real wood or charcoal to gas, and I ignite the old-fashioned way, with kindling, to create a hot, slow fire that will sear and cook any burger to the desired doneness.

The three burgers here — made of beef, ground turkey and hake (a flaky white fish that is moist and tasty, and holds up to the rigors of high heat) — will certainly enliven any cookout.

For beef burgers, look for organically raised, grass-fed meat, and use 6 ounces per patty. Be careful not to overwork the meat when forming patties, which will make them tough. Instead, gently form each one. I mix aged cheddar and Swiss cheeses because both are good for melting — the Swiss adds elasticity, which makes for long, gooey strings of cheese — and blend them with freshly grated horseradish for a kick. Butter the brioche buns, grill them lightly, slather them with “Russian dressing” and finish with crisp bacon, sliced farm tomatoes and lettuce before serving to delighted guests.

The turkey burgers are not your typical ones — they’re actually made from my go-to meatloaf combination of organic ground dark turkey meat and red-pepper relish, and are full of flavor. Consider topping them with Heinz Chili Sauce and vinegary shredded kale.

And for burgers fresh from the sea, try the third option, made with hake: They’re my favorite, and my grandchildren’s too. These are cooked not directly over the coals, but rather in a cast-iron skillet on the grill. Flavored with chives, mayo and capers, and garnished with pickled red onions, they will have your friends and family returning for seconds — maybe even thirds.


Serves: 8

For these burgers, I love Milton Creamery’s Prairie Breeze cheddar and Challerhocker Swiss, both available at murrayscheese.com. Grate the horseradish and add it to the cheeses right before grilling; it quickly loses its potency once grated.

1 1⁄2 cups coarsely grated aged cheddar (4 1⁄2 ounces)

1 1⁄2 cups coarsely grated aged Swiss (5 ounces)

5 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish, or prepared horseradish to taste

3 pounds grass-fed ground beef chuck (85% lean)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Safflower oil, for brushing

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons ketchup

8 brioche buns, split

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

8 slices (1⁄4 inch thick) large, ripe red tomato

16 slices crisp-cooked bacon (1 pound)

8 small lettuce leaves

Bread-and-butter pickle slices

1. Heat grill to medium. Combine both cheeses and horseradish. Gently form beef into 8 patties, each about 4 inches in diameter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Brush grates with oil; grill burgers 4 minutes. Flip; top each with just over 1⁄4 cup cheese mixture. Cover grill and cook, about 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Remove burgers from grill; let rest 5 minutes before assembling.

2. Combine mayonnaise and ketchup. Brush split sides of buns with butter; grill until lightly toasted. Season tomato with salt and pepper. Sandwich burgers in buns with mayonnaise mixture, tomato, bacon, lettuce and pickles.


Serves: 8

Using dark meat makes these burgers extra‐juicy and flavorful.

2 jars (12 ounces each) red-pepper relish, such as Fourth Creek

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 pounds ground dark turkey

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 slice soft white bread, torn into pea-size pieces (1 cup)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons Heinz Chili Sauce, plus more for brushing

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

2 cups packed finely shredded kale

1⁄2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

8 potato rolls, split

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Drain 1 jar relish in a sieve; discard liquid. Pulse 2/3 cup drained relish with onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; add relish mixture. Cook, stirring until a thick paste forms, about 7 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Transfer to a bowl; let cool 5 minutes. Stir in turkey, Worcestershire, mustard, bread, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Form into 8 patties, each about 4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

3. Heat grill to medium. Brush both sides of burgers with oil, then brush grates. Grill 5 minutes. Flip; lightly brush tops with chili sauce and grill until a thermometer inserted into centers registers 165 F, 5 to 6 minutes more.

4. Combine chili sauce and mayonnaise. Drizzle kale with vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Brush split sides of rolls with butter; grill until lightly toasted. Sandwich burgers in rolls with chili-sauce mixture, remaining relish and kale.


Serves: 8

Cutting the fish by hand keeps the texture of the patties light and fluffy.

2 1⁄2 pounds skinless hake or cod

2 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup plus 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1 1⁄2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1⁄4 cup capers, coarsely chopped

1⁄4 cup minced fresh chives

Coarse salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

8 brioche buns, split

Quick-Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)

Watercress sprigs

1. Cut fish into 1⁄4-inch pieces, then coarsely chop until it holds together. Mix with eggs, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, capers, chives, 1 teaspoon salt and cayenne. Form into 8 patties, each about 3 1⁄2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 burgers, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and burgers.

3. Combine remaining 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise and mustard. Brush split sides of buns with oil; lightly toast in skillet. Sandwich burgers in buns with mayonnaise mixture, red onions and watercress.


Makes: 2 cups

2 small red onions, thinly sliced

1 cup white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

Coarse salt

1. Place onions in a medium heat-proof bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a saucepan; pour over onions. Let cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to 1 month.

(Questions may be sent by email to: askmartha@marthastewart.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.)