Beef -- it's what's for dinner. But it doesn't have to be, Sam Elliott. If you're looking to expand your burger horizons and go beyond your comfort zone, you can make the ultimate patty from plenty of other meats, like turkey, bison, or even... ostrich?! You've got options, and Misha Levin, the executive chef of NYC's Bareburger (which sells 'em all), is here to tell you all about each of them, from how to cook them to what toppings to use.
Where's the beef? Not here. Get wise to this unbeef:
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TURKEY How to cook it: Well done What to pair it with: Colby-Jack cheese, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, raw red onions Misha says: "Turkey is a tender, juicy meat, and, when ground and cooked to perfection, it has a similar texture to beef. It's low in fat and high in protein. Turkey is also a great source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium."
LAMB How to cook it: Medium What to pair it with: "Since Bareburger has five co-founders who are of Greek ethnicity, naturally they pair lamb with cool, crisp cucumber and a cucumber-mint yogurt for a play on that traditional Mediterranean feel." Misha says: "Lamb is a tender red meat that's chock full of delicious flavors and, when ground, is similar in texture to beef. It is a rich source of protein and vitamins A, B3, B6, and B12. Its mineral content includes iron, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium."
BISON How to cook it: Medium What to pair it with: Anything smoked will bring out the full, sweet, peppery flavor of the bison. Try smoked mozzarella, smoked bacon, or grilled veggies. Misha says: "Bison is leaner than beef but similar in texture, with a slight sweet-peppery flavor. It's a great source of niacin, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, calcium, and selenium. In fact, it has as much calcium as a glass of milk and as much potassium as a banana."
ELK How to cook it: Medium What to pair it with: Anything spicy (Pepper jack cheese, poblano relish, piquante peppers, Buffalo sauce) Misha says: "Elk is leaner than beef. It's rich in flavor and -- when harvested properly -- never gamey. Elk is low in sodium and a good source of iron and zinc. It's important that elk is harvested using the Temple Grandin method, ensuring that it never goes through the panic and fear that causes meat to taste gamey."
OSTRICH How to cook it: Well-done What to pair it with: "Ostrich makes an excellent counterpart to a cheese that is sharp or tangy -- like a cheddar or an Amish blue -- to allow the rich, sweet flavor of ostrich to really mellow out the spicy bit of the cheese, allowing for a sweet, tangy finish." Misha says: "Ostrich is the leanest of all of these meats. It's a rich, sweet meat, and can be similar in texture to beef. It's low in cholesterol and high in protein."
WILD BOAR How to cook it: Well-done What to pair it with: "We love our wild boar with a sweet fruit (like pineapple) and bacon for a sweet-salty start with a nutty finish." Misha says: "Wild boar is similar in texture to ground pork, with a robust, nutty flavor. It's a good source of zinc and selenium, and a great source of protein."
Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and definitely needs some more selenium in his diet. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.