Sunday, August 1, 2010

Louisiana Turtle Burgers

Whenever there is nothing to watch on TV, we end up surfing over to the Food Network and watch a few shows there. I love unique cooking but I also really don't like watching some show tell me how to make a dish of food which you can only find in outer Mongolia. I like finding out new ways to cook the foods I already have handy.

Now, recently, I got this letter from my sister which included a recipe (with the accompanying photo above) for some Turtle Burgers. Louisiana Turtle Burgers (pronounced 'loo-zee-'ă -nuh.) In fact, the original title was "Coon Ass"* Turtle Burgers" but I cannot see a Cajun making a plain burger with only cheese and Hot Dogs. If anything, these were made by some Nawthunah and given the name in order to give the dish some sort of pedigree. A real Cajun Dish would have some cajun seasoning, at the very least. And let's face it, when have you EVER seen a Cajun dish with store bought hot dogs and NOT Cajun Sausage?

The last thing which causes me to question the Suthun origins of this dish are the instructions. It strangely states
Hand-made ground beef patties, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, then the next step, add hotdogs as the heads, legs with slits for toes and tail.

If you tried to stick those bits of hot dogs into the burgers AFTER they are formed, they will fall right off. (And no, look closely, there are no toothpicks, glue or other foreign matter holding those bits in place. The burned ends you see are the 'formed' feet and toes of the 'turtle.')

My Suthun neighbor, Bubba (aka Lord Of All Things Barbeque), saw this picture and made them up for a weekend get together. He said the best way to make sure 'them legs an' all' stay where they belong during cooking is to "Cut the hot dog in half, and lay all the pieces on top of a flat burger so that they have as much hot dog on the burger as sticking out. Add a ball of hamburger on top and press it down, thus holding the hot dogs in place as you form the 'turtle.' THEN add the cheese and bacon weave." (Bubba Knows Burgers..)

Lastly, the email recipe says to
  "Place on an oven rack, covered loosely with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. A little crispy, not too crunchy...just how a turtle should be, no?" (Gotta love that "Cajun speak" ending there.)

Bubba agreed with the cooking time, and stated that on a grill the legs, head and tail might burn up before the burger was done, so a little 'aluminium' (Bubba pronunciation guide: al-you-MIN-ee-um) foil wrapped around the head and legs might prevent this. Baking, however, seems to be the best idea.  (Like a broken clock, even Nawthunaz are right once in a while.) But the big mistake here is to put them right on an oven rack! Without something to catch the grease from the meats, your oven will be a mess. A broiling pan works best here which will allow the grease to fall away from your 'turtles' as they cook and not mess up your lovelyl appliance.

Neighbor Bubba also suggested a 'touch' of Cajun seasoning in the hamburger, or a bit of memphis barbeque sauce on the bun. Again, Bubba knows burgers.

If you are from some place NAWTH of the Mason-Dixon, you can eat them plain, but don't call them Cajun Turtle Burgers or Louisiana Turtle Burgers. Whatever you call them, if you make some, be sure to let me know how they turned out!


*Coonass, or Coon-ass, is used in reference to a person of Cajun ethnicity. Many consider it an epithet but others consider it a compliment or badge of honor. Not being cajun, I hesitate to use it, and therefore change the name of the burgers to CAJUN Turtle Burgers. It's what any good suthunah would do.


  1. Season to your own tastes, Bro and you can call them turtles by whatever name you like. K? :)

  2. I made these last night and wish I would have seen this website with the tips about inserting the hot dogs. We stuffed the burgers with pepper jack cheese (in addition to the cheddar on top) and stuck the hot dogs in AFTER doing the bacon weave and everything. The hot dogs stayed in place while cooking since they were just sitting on an oven pan, but they were hard to get in and to get to stay in place while assembling them. They tasted absolutely delicious but next time I am going to try your friend's hot dog suggestion. Oh and I used the good hot dogs... I just hate the texture of the cheap ones you often grow up with as a kid.