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DEEP SOUTH BBQ BURGER WITH CARAMELIZED VIDALIA ONIONS, APPLEWOOD BACON, SMOKED PROVOLONE AND SOUTHERN COMFORTABLE SAUCE

Here in the Deep South as in many warm climes, we need something hot and spicy to click on the internal A/C. The sweet, spicy, smoky flavors in this burger reflect the flavors I enjoyed growing up in the South in BBQ joints from Columbus to Athens and Hiwassee to Macon. Just to add a little "lagniappe", the Southern Comfortable sauce comes with a kick like a Georgia mule. This burger is more Rhett Butler than Ashley Wilkes----just ask Scarlet, she always eats two!

Ingredients 

Southern Comfortable Sauce
32 oz. good quality ketchup
32 oz. apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1/2 cup dehydrated onions
1/2 cup chili powder
1/2 cup ancho chili powder
1/4 ground black pepper
1 tblsp ground white pepper
2 tblsp sea salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon zest from 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups Southern Comfort liqueur
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp liquid smoke

Water (if needed)

Burger ingredients
2 1/4 lb. (in all) boneless chuck roast cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Ancho chile powder
1 heaping tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tblsp Chili sauce

Caramelized Vidalia onions
3 tblsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb.s (about three) sweet Vidalia onions halved and sliced thin on the bias
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 oz. Sutter Home Chardonnay

Non-stick cooking spray

Toppings
12 slices Applewood smoked bacon
2 oz. salted butter, softened
6 fresh, large sesame seed buns
6 slices smoked Provolone cheese
3 oz. coarse ground mustard
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Instructions 

First and always, WASH YOUR HANDS with warm, soapy water.

Preheat gas grill to low. Combine all comfortable sauce ingredients, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, dehydrated onions, chili powder, ancho chili powder, black pepper, white pepper, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, Southern Comfort, cayenne and Liquid Smoke in a large pot on the grill. Slowly bring up the heat stirring frequently----you don't want it to scorch. Simmer over low heat for at least an hour while you complete the burger prep. If the sauce is too thick add a little water until you achieve the desired consistency. This makes almost a half gallon of sauce, but you are going to want to bottle the leftover sauce and give it to friends and family who won't leave you alone!

Next place the cubed chuck and all the dry seasoning ingredients, salt, pepper, paprika, Ancho chile powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and ground mustard in a food processor and pulse 8-10 times until you have a nice ground meat consistency and the spices are evenly distributed in the meat. Add the Worcestershire and chili sauce and pulse a couple of more times to combine. Form into six patties, plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Place a large cast iron skillet on the grill. Turn grill up to medium heat and melt butter in skillet. Add onions and stir to coat evenly. Add brown sugar and allow onions to caramelize slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so until a deep golden, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper and deglaze with wine and cook until wine has evaporated about another 2 minutes. Set pan
aside.

While the onions are caramelizing, place another cast iron skillet on the grill and fry up bacon until crisp. Fry in two batches if necessary. Remove to paper towels to drain and wrap in foil.

With grill on medium high, spray with non-stick cooking spray and place burgers on grill. Baste with comfortable sauce and flip once after 4 minutes. Baste again and cook to medium rare (140 degrees on an internal thermometer) about another 3-4 minutes.
During the last minute of grilling, butter the buns and place them buttered side down on the grill. Baste the burgers with a little more sauce and top with onions and bacon strips, put the smoked provolone on the burgers, turn off the grill and close the top after removing the toasted buns. Allow 1 minute for cheese to melt.

Smear some coarse ground mustard on the bottom of the bun, add the patties, top with shredded romaine and pour a little more sauce on the top bun and dig in!

Comments 

We like to make wine coolers to serve with this burger--take a bottle of Sutter Home Pinot Noir, add 8 oz of lemon lime soda, 4 oz of passionfruit liquer or Chambord and freshly sliced lemons and limes and chill well. Serve up in tall glasses pulled from the freezer and reee-lax!