Salmon burgers are a delicious and healthy alternative to meat burgers. Smoking them with hay adds a light, sweet, subtle flavor to them which is not overly smoky.
I recommend purchasing hay intended for rodent food at the pet store. It is available in small quantities and will be chemical-free. The cooking process is twofold, first the burgers are smoked on the grill (no cooking) then they are grilled. It's a really fun recipe! Please refer to the photo collage above for all the steps of the smoking on a charcoal grill.
½cupPanko Bread Crumbs(I used Ian’s Gluten-Free Panko Crumbs)
1tablespoonfresh Dill, diced
1teaspoonfresh Italian Parsley, diced
½teaspoondry Yellow Mustard
¼teaspoonground Black Pepper
Possible optional garnishes: Burger buns(can be warmed on the grill before using), tomato slices, mixed greens, sour cream, ketchup, mayonnaise
Supplies for the Grill:
Hay(I used hay intended for animal feed purchased at the pet store to ensure no chemicals); 2 large handfuls
Heatproof deep square pan(I used a square disposable foil pan available at grocery stores)
A baking cooling rack
Heavy duty foil(if using a gas grill)
A non-plastic bucket filled halfway with water
Oil for brushing burgers
Instructions for preparing Salmon Burgers:
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with a large spoon until fully incorporated. Form into four equal sized patties and place on a plate or baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
Smoking and Cooking the Burgers:
If using a charcoal grill or smoker: Heat charcoal in a chimney until flames are coming out the top. Pour out the coals on one side of the grill only. For a gas grill: Turn one side of the grill onto high.
Fill the square pan with ice. Place the rack on top of the ice and the burgers onto the rack. The first step is designed to smoke the burgers only not to cook them.
For a charcoal grill: Place two large handfuls of hay onto the hot coals. It will begin to smoke vigorously immediately. Position the grate on top of the smoking coals and hay and place the ice tray with burgers on the grate on the non-heated side of the grill. Place the lid on the grill with top vents closed leaving the bottom vents open. Allow to smoke until on the burgers take on a golden color, about 3 ½ minutes. Remove the tray and set aside. For a gas grill: Place a large piece of heavy foil on the heated side of the grill. Place the hay on the foil and light it to allow it to begin smoking. Add the ice tray with burgers to the unheated side of the grill. Close the lid and smoke for 3 ½ minutes.
Remove the smoldering hay from the hot charcoal or the foil (if using a gas grill) and deposit into the bucket of water to extinguish.
For a charcoal grill: Spread out the hot coals, allow the grill rack to heat up, scrape and oil the rack. Lightly brush both sides of the burgers with olive oil or vegetable oil. Place the burgers on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side until an instant read thermometer reads 140 degrees F. For a gas grill: heat the grill to 350 degrees and place the burgers on the grill cooking approximately 4 minutes per side until a thermometer registers 140 degrees F.
Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes. While the burgers are resting buns can be warmed on the grill. Adding greens below the salmon burger anchors them as well as absorbed excess juice in the case of a traditional beef burger (salmon burgers are leaner so do not seep excess moisture).
Recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen's Project Smoke as presented at BBQU 2015.*If ground salmon is unavailable, remove the skin and bones from a salmon fillet and pulse through a food processor to make ground salmon.