Cooks Exchange

A good burger is top choice for Mardi Gras parade-gating

Burgers of any kind – ground beef, black bean, turkey, chicken or pork – are good food for Mardi Gras paradegoers to enjoy. If you like, add chili and cheese.
Burgers of any kind – ground beef, black bean, turkey, chicken or pork – are good food for Mardi Gras paradegoers to enjoy. If you like, add chili and cheese. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep those parades rolling. Mardi Gras Day is almost here, and what’s cooking along the parade route?

Mardi Gras, which rolls through Tuesday, is truly a street party complete with street food. Old hands at Mardi Gras cook up hearty tailgating or parade-gating foods along the parade route. They must keep up their strength to catch the throws. Some even park their campers along the route and haul out the grills and outdoor crawfish pots for mudbugs.

So, what’s in your portable outdoor kitchen?

While I love boiled seafood, nothing smells better as you stroll the parade route than a burger on the grill, and I mean a thick, juicy burger complete with cheese and all the fixings. It is a parade basic that parade cooks can make their own by adding a variety of toppings or meats.

Me, I am a chili burger person. You know, the kind of burger where the chili is not too spicy and fairly drips down the burger even though it is wrapped in plenty of napkins.

Yes, there is more to parade food than burgers, but I thought we would keep it simple with a variety of burger offerings today. One of these burgers includes beef, but others are veggie ones so folks can have what they like. Beef eaters get their juicy burger, while non-beef eaters enjoy a lighter fare.

Food Network’s Sunny Anderson makes a mean black bean burger that she says is so good that diners won’t miss the beef.

Spices and veggies keep a turkey burger from being dry or so says chef Niloufer Ichaporia King. She adds a greater proportion of raw veggies to the burger mix and adds in the spice.

Cook, TV host and cookbook author Rachael Ray makes a chili cheeseburger with homemade chili sauce. Couldn’t you just dive into that burger?

Ray uses ground beef that is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat to make a juicier burger. Yes, fat makes it juicier.


1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon cumin

4 to 6 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and gently chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 packet plain instant oatmeal

1 egg, beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

To serve:

4 multigrain wheat buns, toasted

4 teaspoons mayonnaise


Avocado slices

Lettuce, shredded

In a large bowl or plastic bag, mash the beans, leaving a few chunks. Stir in the cumin, thyme and garlic. Stir to combine and taste to season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the corn, oats and egg. Refrigerate mixture for 10 minutes to hydrate the oats.

In a large pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and when it begins to swirl scoop out 1/4 of the mixture and drop onto the pan, slightly smoothing it into a circle. Cook on one side until golden and a bit crisp, about 8 minutes, flip and cook on the other side for just 6 minutes more.

To serve: Spread the bottom of each set of buns with a thin layer of mayonnaise, top with lettuce, the patties, avocado, salsa then another bun.

– Recipe by Sunny Anderson, Food Network


1 pound ground turkey, chicken or lean pork

1 small red or yellow onion or 4 green onions, finely chopped

6 slices peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 to 4 small green chilies like jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds and white ribs removed

1/2 cup or more chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems

1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, optional

1 large egg


In a bowl, mix together the ground turkey, onion, chilies, fresh cilantro, mint if you like, and egg. Season with salt and mix thoroughly. (If you want to check the seasoning to taste, fry off a little tester patty.) Shape into 4 to 6 flat patties.

Heat a cast-iron skillet with a thin film of oil. Moderately high heat is better than a blazing hot pan, which can char the meat before the insides are cooked. Fry the burgers on both sides until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes a side, depending on the thickness. To be certain the meat is cooked through, an instant-read thermometer should read 165 degrees, but the recipe is forgiving even if you overcook it. Serve as you like. King recommends serving without a bun, but with a baked potato and simple green salad with avocado.

– Recipe from and “Genius Recipes”


For the chili sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound 80/20 ground beef

Salt and pepper

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder (Rachael likes Gebhardt’s)

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 cup larger beer or beef stock

1 can (14 ounces) crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes

For the burgers:

18 frozen onion rings

Olive oil, for drizzling

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20)

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup grated onion and its juice

About 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 pound sliced yellow American or Cheddar cheese, sliced on the thick side a deli

6 burger rolls

Sliced pickled jalapeno peppers

For chili sauce, heat oil in skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat and brown beef, season with salt and pepper, then add onion, jalapeno, garlic and spices. Cook until onions are tender, about 4-5 minutes, then add beef or stock and let it absorb. Add tomatoes to chili and simmer until ready to serve

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and cook frozen fried onion rings to very crisp and golden, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the burger, heat large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until pan is very hot with oil. Combine beef with salt, pepper, grated onion and Worcestershire. Form 6 patties, thinner at center than edges for even cooking and grill them 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally, top with cheese and melt.

Serve cheeseburger on rolls topped with chili, pickled jalapeno peppers and onion rings.

– Recipe by Rachael Ray from

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.