Tami’s Island Burgers with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

In my elementary school days, I had a wonderful babysitter named Tami. I loved Tami. She was from the Caribbean and she was a magician in the kitchen. Not once did she ever touch a recipe. Like my mom, she could just look take a look at her ingredients and, as if by some supernatural force, a dish would appear. (I’m still trying to master this technique; I think I missed a few lessons down the road.)

Tami didn’t talk a lot, but she was very sweet. Whenever she made us dinner I would sit on top of the dishwasher and just watch her. She hummed while she cooked and never told me her secrets. Her dishes were often spins on typical American casseroles and stews, yet still I never knew what she put in them. Lots of vegetables, lots of meat, and lots of adobo seasoning. Simply put, they were delicious.

I started thinking about Tami recently and have been having a craving for her island burgers. Since she never shared the recipe, I had to think long and hard about how I could re-create them…but I think I’ve come up with a fine substitute. It’s easy and quick to make, with very few ingredients. Just my kind of cooking!

For this attempt, I used ground turkey because it was what we had in the house. Normally I’d recommend using beef because it helps the seasonings inside the burger shine a bit more. To continue with my Island/American fusion, I paired the burgers with a Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato because a) the flavor combination worked well together and b) who doesn’t love potatoes with their burger?

Buen provecho!

Tami’s Island Burgers

by Emily of (Mainly) Gluten Free in NYC

Serves 4, makes about 6 normal-size burgers


1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 1/3 lbs ground meat (turkey, chicken or beef will do)
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (add more if using poultry as your meat)Ground pepper
Olive Oil

1. Heat a medium-size skillet with olive oil and add the red peppers, stirring frequently until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the shallots and cook together about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit.

3. In a large bowl, combine the meat, adobo seasoning and a pinch of ground pepper. Be careful not to overmix. Gently fold in the vegetables and let sit, covered, for a few minutes. This allows the flavor from the sauteed vegetables and the adobo to seep into the meat. If you want to let it sit longer than a few minutes it should be kept in the fridge as it is raw meat.

4. Shape the burgers and return them to the skillet with the olive oil. I like to cook the burgers in the same pan as the peppers and onions because it enriches the overall taste of the burger. Serve on a (gluten-free) bun with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipe below), or add a mango/pineapple salsa. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

by Emily of (Mainly) Gluten Free in NYC


1 head of garlic
Olive Oil
Aluminum foil

6 medium potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold, but Idaho works as well), peeled and chopped into small cubes
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the head of garlic in a small piece of aluminum foil. Peel off some of the outer layers of the skin of the garlic and, using a knife, cut off about1/4 inch of the top of the cloves. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some salt over the garlic. Replace with the top of the garlic and wrap tightly in the foil.

3. Place in a oven-proof dish and roast in the oven until the cloves are soft and slightly brown, about 40 minutes.

4. While the garlic is roasting, begin boiling the potatoes in a medium to large pot on the stove. This should take about 15 minutes.

5. When the potatoes are cooked through, drain them in a colander and then put back in their original pot. Mash well and combine with milk and butter. (Note: I prefer mashed potatoes with some potato chunks left in them, so I mash my potatoes by hand until almost creamy. I don’t use a mixer because it changes the consistency of the potatoes and makes them too gooey.)

6. Finally, fold in a few of the roasted garlic cloves. I use two or three with my family because they aren’t as huge garlic fans, but if you want your potatoes to have an extra garlic zing, feel free to add more.

Tami, I hope I’ve done you proud. And if you’re reading this, may I please finally having your chicken stew recipe? :)

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