On "A Different World," a late-1980s sitcom set at the fictional Hillman College, the homecoming weekend episodes are the most memorable story lines. At the Pit, the campus café owned and managed by Vernon Gaines — played by the late Lou Myers — half-priced victory burgers were served during football games, and the Pit's ordering window, stuffed with bus buckets, was more than a place for laughs and french fries; it was self-affirming TV, at once aspirational and a time capsule of Black life. Because beef burgers are always on the cookout menu, I challenged myself to create a juicy chicken burger that's just as satisfying.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup celery seed
- 1/4 cup cumin seed
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1¼ teaspoons Chicken Salt (recipe above)
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 slices white cheddar cheese
- 4 hamburger buns
- lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and/or mustard, for serving
For the chicken salt:
Combine the salt, celery seed, cumin seed and onion powder in a medium bowl. Stir using a wooden spoon until well-combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several months.
For the burgers:1.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high (400 F). Move the coals to one side of the grill to make a cooler spot, if using a charcoal grill, or turn the flame down on one side if using a gas grill.2.
Combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, chicken salt and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well with clean hands or a wooden spoon to combine.3.
Form the mixture into 4 patties, about 1/2-inch thick, and set them on a plate. Refrigerate the burgers for 10 to 15 minutes.4.
Brush the chicken patties with the peanut oil and place them on the grill over direct heat. Close the grill lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, until the burgers reach 165 F on an instant-read thermometer.5.
Move the burgers to the cooler side of the grill to avoid any flare-ups or if they're getting too charred.6.
During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place a slice of cheese on top of the patties, close the grill lid again and allow to melt.7.
Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings.