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Better Bloody Mary Burgers

About 10 years ago, I spent a month in New Orleans to escape my real life. I graduated college, had no good job lined up, my had parents separated, and my ex-boyfriend proposed to me, all in a matter of a week. Needless to say, it was time to take a break and think. I had a few good friends living in the Big Easy and I found much needed peace at their home in the Garden District. Anyway, a few blocks from their home, was a little neighborhood bar  where we could walk in at any hour of the day and order the best bloody marys I've ever had to this day. I mean, ANYTIME. I decided to create the "Better Bloody Mary Burger", in honor of that great city that will only get better and to that little dive bar, that was the calm eye of my storm.


Tomato Topper with a kick:
1 can plum tomatoes- well-drained and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks ¾ cup of vodka
1 -1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¾ cup mayonnaise

2 pounds ground chuck
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons bottled horseradish, drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 French hamburger rolls, split
3 cups arugula leaves


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover. To make Tomato Topper , combine tomatoes, vodka, salt and black pepper in a 10-inch, fire-proof skillet, cover with a lid and place on grill rack. Cook the tomato mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is simmering. Remove pan from grill and set aside. To make the lime mayonnaise, combine the lime juice, paprika, salt and black pepper in a bowl and mix well to make a paste. Stir in mayonnaise and blend well. Refrigerate until serving. To make the patties, combine the beef, garlic, cumin, horseradish, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lime rind, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly. To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the lime mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place half a cup of the arugula leaves, a patty. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomato topper on top of the patty. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.