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Bacon-Studded Burger with Pimento Cheese and Homemade Pickled Red Onions

I believe it's hard to beat a classic burger but this one might just do it. It has all the elements of a classic with just a little flare to liven things up. AND DON'T TURN YOUR NOSE UP AT THE PIMENTO CHEESE! I use a high quality gourmet brand that is absolutely delicious that includes sharp cheddar, roasted hot and mild peppers and cilantro. The pickled onions are extra crunchy and satisfy both the onion and pickle in one shot. They are great on anything, in fact, so make extra!

Ingredients 

Pickled Onions:
1 quart plus 1/2 cup water 2 medium-size red onions, sliced thinly about 1/8"
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, lightly cracked
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, lightly cracked
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Patties: 8 slices best quality smoked bacon, chopped
2 lbs freshly ground beef chuck
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Colativa Olive Oil for brushing grill rack
6 egg hamburger rolls
1 pint Pimento Cheese 
6 slices large, ripe tomato
6 green leaf lettuce leaves

Instructions 

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to high. Prepare the pickled onions first by placing 1 quart of the water (save the remaining 1/2 cup for later use) in a sauce pan and place on grill rack to boil. Place the onions in a large glass bowl. When the water is boiling pour over onions and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain the onions and return to the bowl. Immediately cover the drained onions with the remaining 1/2 cup cold water, vinegar, peppercorns, coriander seeds, hot pepper flakes and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Reduce the heat of the grill to medium-hot. To make the patties, place a cast iron skillet on the grill rack to pre-heat for a few minutes. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until crisp. Drain and move to a paper towel lined plate to cool. When bacon is cooled, place the bacon, beef, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties. Check to see that the grill is still at a medium-hot heat and adjust as needed. Brush the grill rack with olive oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of grilling, place the rolls on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble the burgers, spread a generous scoop of pimento cheese on the bottom bun. Add a patty and top with a spoonful of pickled onions, a tomato slice and a lettuce leaf. Add the top roll and serve immediately.

Comments 

I particularly like the Pimento Cheese so I highly recommend using it if you can find it. I purchase it at most natural or gourmet marketplaces. I don't recommend melting it on the burger though as most cheese spreads contain some mayonnaise which tends to become greasy when heated. If you can't find this brand, use another high quality pimento cheese or if you have time, make your own! This burger is also good with other cheese spreads such as blue cheese or smoked gouda.