What is a Turtle Burger?

Published in the July 2013 Issue July 2013 Brady L. Kay

Turtle BurgerI’m not sure how it works on your houseboat, but when it comes to cooking meals we have a rotation system. This system of ours became a necessity when my wife was quick to point out she was spending way too much time inside cooking and not nearly enough time relaxing on the top deck. Sheepishly I had to admit she did have a good point.

On my wife’s night to cook onboard she truly goes all out; it’s just her personality and the party-planner inside of her. And depending on the company, she might even incorporate a theme, which is always well-received. She’s the best cook in the family and everyone onboard knows that when it’s my turn to cook, it’s going to be a bare bones meal. On my nights it’s just about getting everyone fed and back in the water or back to whatever else they happen to be doing.

Well, on my last trip to the lake I violated my own rule of just keeping the meal simple. I came across this crazy food photo online and decided I wanted to attempt to make it myself. The photo was of a “Turtle Burger,” and I made the mistake of boasting to the crew that I was going to do this on our next trip.

I envisioned grilling the Turtle Burger on the front deck and being the talk of the dock. For those not familiar with a Turtle Burger (or live a healthy lifestyle and choose to ignore funny food photos), it’s a large seasoned hamburger patty that you weave thick bacon on top for the “turtle’s” shell. Then you use hot dogs to create its legs, head and tail.

Just seeing a picture online had my mouth watering and I couldn’t wait. I was already committed so there was no turning back. I started researching the details and suddenly it occurred to me that this was going to be a lot of work. For starters, you don’t cook this beast on a grill, but rather in an oven. So this meant I wouldn’t be outside as planned. But no worries, I was still excited for the challenge of creating my first ever Turtle Burger.

As if the bacon alone wasn’t enough to clog my arteries, I decided to use cheese dogs instead of regular hot dogs for the feet. Brilliant!

What I didn’t anticipate was the prep work. I started during prime swimming time to make sure it would be ready for dinner. We already had a lot of the items onboard like a baking rack with a tray to go underneath it, so that was good. Weaving bacon is a lot harder than it looks, but I found I got better at it as I moved along. I went as far as to cut the ends of the cheese dogs so they looked like little toes. My kids thought it looked cute, but it just made it easier for the cheese to drip out while cooking, which of course stunk up the whole houseboat when the cheese dripped on the bottom of the oven. The cheese dogs were probably a bad call.

The Turtle Burgers cooked for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, which gave me some time to round up something to go with it…a bag of potato chips. I was so excited to show them off once they were done and I did get the spotlight I was going for with our friends who seemed to be impressed. I enjoyed every bite (it was more like having meatloaf than a hamburger), but I told my wife that night that I wasn’t sure I’d ever do it again because it did take a little longer than my normal meals at the lake. But all it took was one request from a friend a few weeks later and I was already talking about how I could make them better. If you have a “unique” food recipe that can be cooked on a houseboat, post it on our Facebook page and tell us all about it. However, if it’s too elaborate I might just have to pass it on to my wife to cook up.

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