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Heartland County Fair Pork Burgers

When I think of the heartland of America, I think of the good ol’ county fair. The fair is where delicious food combines with contests and fun of all sorts. My county fair burger really capture this spirit and celebrates my favorite part of the County Fair: the pigs. I start with a delicious Midwestern pork patty that’s got some bacon in it that is topped with a Corn-Red Pepper Relish. I also have some Maytag blue cheese (straight from Iowa) as well as some country ham (hopefully, from the pig that won the contest at the county fair!) and some kettle corn on top for some texture. Put it all on a potato bun, and you’ll feel like you’re riding the carousel at the County Fair!

Ingredients 

Corn-Red Pepper Relish:
1 cup corn kernels, cut from the cob
3/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Patties:
6 strips bacon
2 pounds ground pork
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
4 ounces Maytag blue cheese
6 potato buns, split
6 ounces country ham, thinly sliced, julienned
2 1/2 cups kettle corn (popcorn)

Instructions 

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

To make Apple-Corn relish, heat a medium fireproof saucepan on the grill. Add corn, red pepper, onion, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil. Move saucepan to a spot on the grill with less heat; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

In order to make the patties, cook bacon in a large fireproof skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet. Let cool. Finely chop. Place bacon, pork, chicken stock, salt, and pepper in a large mixing 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.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4-5 minutes on each side. During the last 3 minutes of grilling, place equal amounts of cheese on each patty. Also, during the last few minutes of grilling, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

In order to assemble the burgers, on each bun bottom, place a generous amount of relish, a patty with cheese on top, equal amounts of country ham, and an equal amount of kettle corn. Add the bun tops.

Makes 6 burgers.