Bourbon Bacon Burger with Pimento Cheese

CAUTION: Things may appear fuzzy after eating this burger…or even after just looking at this burger. It’s the bourbon! …Only kidding. The camera played a mean joke on me and not one photo of this gorgeous burger came out in focus. My apologies! 🙂

 

I have two words for you– Bacon. Jam.

Make that three words– BOURBON. BACON. JAM.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect…

BJ dreamed up this burger last weekend as we were in the mood for something out-of-the-ordinary and fun.

“Have you ever had bacon jam?” He asked from the kitchen.

I had, and he had too, he just didn’t remember. We had bacon “marmalade” atop a tiny mason jar of pimento cheese when we dined at Hugh Achenson‘s Empire State South in Atlanta. It was a scrumptious little appetizer, as anything served in a mini mason jar usually is. I reminded BJ of that date night almost a year ago now, and then these burgers happened. He was inspired and my mouth was watering in anticipation. BJ came up with every component of these Burgers- the bourbon bacon jam, the pimento cheese, and the pretzel bun between which it would all be nestled. I helped him carry it out by flying to the nearest grocery store during the kids’ naps, then coming home and furiously grating cheese, crisping bacon, and basically completing all of the prep work so he could throw it all together. The results were AHHH-MAZING!

Bourbon Bacon Jam needs to live in your refrigerator, perhaps in a cute little jar, for the duration. Yes, you will be tempted by it on a daily basis. Yes, it’s likely definitely not the healthiest condiment in the world. But man…it’s good. As Joey Tribbiani from FRIENDS would say,

“Bacon? Good!”

“Shallots? Good!”

“Brown sugar? Good!”

“Bourbon? Goooood!”

Slather it on a cracker, a biscuit, or some toast. Use it to add some oomph to your next grilled cheese, or maybe stir it into some polenta or grits. However you eat it, you’re going to be glad you know how to make it.

On a side note, this pimento cheese recipe is no slouch either. Inspired by the recipe from Husk in Charleston, SC, this little bit of goodness took me less than 5 minutes to prep and really hit the mark. The original recipe called for bourbon as well, but I wanted it to be kid-friendly and there was already enough bourbon in the bacon jam to go around. Feel free to keep it in there if that’s your fancy.

To pull all of these components together, don’t skimp on the pretzel bun if you can help it. We found ours at Whole Foods, but I’m sure some of the other higher end mainstream stores carry them as well. The bun was almost my favorite part, probably because I just thought it was so smart of my hubby to suggest it. We’ve had a lot of fun picking out special buns for our burgers lately. It really takes a ho-hum burger to a whole other level. Even if all you can find is King’s Hawaiian Buns, it makes a huge difference!

You’re going to love this burger! It’s a winner on every level and will undoubtedly be the star of your next cookout. I’m not going to put this burger on next week’s meal plan…I think it might be too much for a weeknight dinner. However, since the recipe is posted here you can make that call for yourself! 🙂 If you need help with other dinner ideas, meal plans and shopping lists there has never been a better time to subscribe. As part of a Ladies Night Out event happening in Orange County this week, I’m running a HUGE discount on annual memberships. New members get 80% off with the coupon code “ocladiesnightout”. That’s just ten bucks for an entire year! Crazy, I know. The code is good until August 1st. Happy cooking!

Bourbon Bacon Burger with Pimento Cheese (4-5 servings)

1.5 lbs. ground beef (I use 85% fat for juicy burgers)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil, for brushing
butter lettuce, leaves separated
Bourbon Bacon Jam (recipe to follow)
Pimento Cheese (recipe to follow)

  1. Using your hands, gently mix beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper until just combined.
  2. Divide beef into 4 or 5 equal portions and shape into patties. I like to flatten mine out as much as possible and then press a small well into the center of each to keep them from turning into burger meatballs on the grill.
  3. Brush a small amount of canola oil on each side of the burger patty and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat and oil a grill to high heat. Once it’s screaming hot, lower the heat to medium and add the burgers. Close the grill. After 4-5 minutes, flip the burgers and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Check for desired doneness and move to a top rack to finish cooking if needed.
  5. Build the burgers by topping the bottom of the pretzel bun with the patty, some butter lettuce, 2 tablespoons (AT LEAST!!) of bourbon bacon jam, and 2 tablespooons (AT LEAST!!) of pimento cheese. Serve. Swoon.

bourbon bacon jam

Bourbon Bacon Jam

1.5 lbs. good bacon
1 cup of shallots, finely chopped
2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup bourbon
½ cup pure maple syrup
Âź cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Lay a wire rack inside a sheet pan and line the rack with the bacon. You may have to do this in batches or use two pans.
  2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bacon is extra, extra crispy. Set aside and reserve a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once bacon has cooled, chop it up finely.
  4. Heat reserved bacon fat in a large skillet or sautĂŠ pan on medium heat. Add shallots and onion and cook until caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so longer.
  5. Carefully deglaze the pan with the bourbon, scraping up any bits that have formed along the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika and chopped bacon. Continue to cook for about ten minutes or until the mixture starts thickening up and looks like jam.
  7. Drain any excess fat off and pour into jars. Store in the refrigerator. Can be served cold or warmed up in the microwave and slathered all over anything that looks like it needs a slathering. 🙂

 

Pimento Cheese

 

Pimento Cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup jarred sliced pimiento, rinsed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add all other ingredients and combine.
  2. Store in the refrigerator.

pimento cheese crackers

It’s Thanksgiving in June!

turkeyburger Are we seriously already closer to THIS Thanksgiving than we are LAST Thanksgiving? That’s crazy to me! I swear the holidays just passed, didn’t they? Well apparently not because my calendar says June 3rd and everyone is talking about what to cook on the grill and what to drink on a hot summer day. I guess I’ll jump on board. BJ and I are still on our healthy-ish eating kick, so the other night when a burger craving hit we decided to only half way indulge by grilling up some turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are an awesome alternative to beef. Done correctly they can still be juicy and flavorful with much less fat. A friend of ours grills up the most delicious turkey burgers I’ve ever had, but they are HOT, HOT, HOT! He uses, chipotle peppers, pepper jack cheese and more chipotle peppers. They are super juicy and yummy but they will set you on fire! Since I’m breastfeeding and not hoping to set my six week old’s tummy on fire, I thought we should go a different route this time around. That’s when BJ suggested Thanksgiving turkey burgers. Intriguing. You could really go all out with this theme, but we just used what we already had on hand. The burger patties were mixed up with fresh parsley, thyme and caramelized shallots. They were topped with smoked provolone cheese, fresh arugula and a delicious pepper jelly-cranberry sauce spread. It was just enough kick to wake up your tastebuds balanced with the right amount of sweetness from the cranberry sauce and smokiness from the provolone cheese. Thanksgiving on a bun! If you’re feeling the need to channel Thanksgiving in June, give this one a shot!

Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
4 slices smoked provolone
2 cups baby arugula
4 Kings Hawaiian hamburger buns
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. SautĂŠ shallot until softened and beginning to caramelize. Set aside.
  2. Combine ground turkey, parsley, thyme, shallots and salt and pepper, mix gently with your hands. Divide into four equal parts and form four patties.
  3. Heat a grill to high heat. Oil the grates to keep meat from sticking. Once grill is smoking hot, reduce heat to medium and put patties on. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side, flipping only once.
  4. Towards the end of cooking, top each patty with a slice of cheese and let melt.
  5. Meanwhile, combine pepper jelly and cranberry jelly. Set aside.
  6. To build burgers slather cranberry-pepper relish on bottom bun and top with turkey patty. Add another small amount of relish to the top of the patty and then top with arugula. Top with bun. Serve.

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Pita Burgers with In-N-Out Sauce

I’ve been wanting to put a big, juicy burger on the weekly meal plan for a while now and it finally happened this week. If I’m honest, I was imagining how delightful a photo of a burger would look on my Instagram feed more than I was actually wanting to eat a burger. As it happens, I am way more impressed by the quality of the burger than I am by the way the photos turned out. Go figure. It’s totally my mistake because in trying to keep my recipe weeknight-friendly, I used a pita to house my patty instead of the traditional hamburger bun. You may not know this…I didn’t…but pitas aren’t pretty to photograph. Live and learn.

Back to the burger. The patties themselves were simple. Ground chuck, salt, pepper and pinch of garlic salt. If you’re going to go big with the toppings, as I did, leave the beef alone so there aren’t too many competing flavors. You want the all around taste of the entire burger to be what you remember, not the overly seasoned beef. I cooked the patties diner-style on an electric griddle. For those of you who think a hamburger simply must be grilled, I’d love for you to give this method a shot. It gave them a really nice, crispy, brown crust.

The big flavor punch came in the toppings…plum tomatoes, butter lettuce, caramelized onions and my take on In-N-Out’s special sauce. You could (and probably should), add bacon to this burger to up the ante even more. You really can’t go wrong!

Pita Burgers with In N Out Sauce

For the burgers:

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil 4 pitas
2 plum tomatoes
butter lettuce
1 onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 stick of unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

1 cup mayo
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. For the sauce, add the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and slowly cook to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a cast-­‐iron skillet or large heavy griddle pan over medium-­‐ high heat.
  4. Form chuck into 4 balls with your hands. Season balls with salt and pepper on all sides.
  5. Add the canola oil to the heated griddle. Place the burger balls on the griddle and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Then, using a spatula, press the balls down, flattening them down as you spread them out. You want the patties to be about an 1⁄2 inch thick. Let the burger get a nice char on one side, and then flip so they get nice and crusty brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  6. Half pita bread so that they are half-­‐circle pockets. Spread sauce on both inside walls of pita. Be generous. Add patty, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions to pocket. Serve remaining sauce on the side. (If your burgers are too large for one pita pocket, cut them in half and make 2 or reserve as leftovers.)