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Black Pepper Caramel Burgers with Mango-Green Apple Slaw and Basil-Mint Mayonnaise

When I can't decide whether or not to order Thai carryout or a great burger, this is my favorite go-to, homemade compromise.

Serves 
Makes 6 burgers
Ingredients 

Mango-Green Apple Slaw

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, cored and shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored and shredded
  • 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably naturally-brewed)

Black Pepper Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • Salt

Basil-Mint Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup high-quality or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 6 round Italian or French bread rolls
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds freshly ground chuck
  • Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the slaw, combine the mango, carrot, green apple, lime juice and soy sauce in a small, non-reactive bowl. Refrigerate or leave at room temperature to marinade until ready to use.

To make the caramel sauce, combine the sugar, fish sauce and 1/4 cup of the water in a saucepan over your preheated grill. Cook and stir occasionally until the mixture begins to bubble and the sugar granules are no longer visible, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the remaining water, garlic, freshly-ground black pepper and continue to cook until the mixture is molten and thick, about another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and set aside.

To make the mayonnaise, combine the mayonnaise, fresh basil and fresh mint in a food processor. Process to create a smooth spread, transfer to a small bowl, and chill to let flavors blend.

Split the rolls horizontally in half and butter the cut sides. Place the chopped peanuts on a plate and dip the tops of each roll, butter-side down, into the peanuts, pressing the roll gently into the peanuts to make sure that they adhere to the rolls. In batches, grill the rolls, butter-side down, until they are lightly toasted, being careful so as to not scorch the peanuts or the rolls. Remove the rolls from the grill and set them aside to rest, grilled side up.

To make the patties, gently combine the bacon and chuck in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 6 equal patties.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack. Grill the first side without moving the patties for approximately 4 minutes. Juices from the patties will begin to emerge from the top. At this stage, turn each patty a quarter turn, baste each burger liberally with the caramel sauce, and let grill for 2 more minutes on the first side. Flip the patties, then douse each patty again with the caramel sauce and finish grilling on the second side to your desired doneness.

To assemble, spread the bottom of each toasted roll with some of the mayonnaise. Add the patties, mound with the slaw, and add the roll tops. Cut the burgers in half with a serrated knife, if desired, and serve.

Comments 

My dad was a black pepper FIEND, and this deep and abiding love was definitely passed on my way. This burger combines more freshly ground, hot, tasty black pepper than you can shake a stick at with some of my favorite flavor combinations from Thailand. When I can't decide whether or not to order Thai carryout or a great burger, this is my favorite go-to, homemade compromise.