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Beefed Up Beantown Burger with Colonial Grilled Green Tomato Relish

This burger is a salute to Boston and Colonial New England. Baked beans were a hearty Saturday night staple that was served with Brown Bread and Green Tomato Relish. The flavors are rich, robust and satisfying, using traditional colonial ingredients such as molasses, salt pork (which is similar to bacon, but much saltier and fattier), and dry mustard. Brown bread is a dark, slightly sweet quick bread that was traditionally made with molasses and a variety of grains such as rye flour, whole wheat flour and cornmeal. It was usually made in cans and steamed in the open hearth kettles. There are no beans in this recipe, but all the flavors of a slow simmered pot of Boston Baked Beans are captured in this modern Beefed Up Beantown Burger.

Ingredients 

Colonial Grilled Green Tomato Relish:

2-3 tablespoons Colavita Olive Oil - for drizzling on tomatoes
3 large green tomatoes, cored and cut in half
1/2 cup of finely diced red onion
1/2 cup of finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Boston Baked Beans Inspired Glaze:

1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Patties:

4 ounces salt pork, sliced thinly both lengthwise and crosswise into "bits"
1 1/2 pounds freshly ground chuck
1/2 cup of minced red onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced/pressed
1/2 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tablespoon molasses
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing on grill
2 (16 ounce) cans of Brown Bread – (such as B&M Original Brown Bread), cut into 8 (1/2 inch) round slices per can
6 tablespoons butter, softened enough to be spreadable
6 Red leaf lettuce leaves, roughly torn
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
6 ounces of shredded Vermont White Cheddar Cheese

Instructions 

Preheat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover.

To make the relish, drizzle the olive oil on the cut sides of the tomatoes. When the grill is ready place the tomatoes on the rack, cut side down and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, do not turn over. Remove the tomatoes from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. When ready, finely dice the tomatoes and combine with the red onion, bell pepper, smoked sea salt, celery seed, dry mustard, allspice, brown sugar and cider vinegar in a large bowl. Mix everything together well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the glaze, whisk or stir together the molasses, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and black pepper in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the patties, heat a medium, heavy fire proof skillet on the grill, add the salt pork and render until crisp. Remove and transfer to paper towels to drain and cool enough to handle. Transfer the salt pork bits to a cutting board, to chop finer. Combine the rendered salt pork with the ground chuck, red onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce , molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard and black pepper in a large bowl, mix together well, handling as little as possible. Divide and shape into 6 patties. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil, and place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once until done to preference, about 4-6 minutes per side for medium, do not press down on patties. The USDA recommends cooking burgers to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place 12 slices of the brown bread (excluding the 4 end pieces) on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly, turning once. During the last minute of cooking, brush the glaze on the tops of the patties, flip patties and repeat brushing glaze on other side.

To assemble the burgers, spread 1/2 tablespoon of butter on one side of each of the toasted bread slices. Place an equal amount of the torn lettuce leaves on 6 of the bread slices. Spoon a moderate portion of relish over the lettuce and place patties on top. Sprinkle patties with 1/4 teaspoon (a pinch) of smoked sea salt and 1 ounce of the shredded cheese each and top with remaining buttered bread slices, then serve.

Makes: 6 burgers

Comments 

There is enough salt in the salt pork to replace adding salt to the patties, but the pinch of smoked sea salt before serving is a delicious modern compliment.

Save the 4 end pieces of the brown bread for snacking on another time, toasted with butter and cream cheese.