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Hickory-Smoked Burgers with Buttermilk Slaw and Sweet n’ Sour Pickle Relish

My inspiration for these burgers was the heady deliciousness of grilling beef outdoors over a hickory wood fire when I go camping. Tantalizing! And you need some favorite sides and toppings with that perfectly charred and cooked smoky beef, so served with some creamy, tangy, crunchy slaw and some spiced sweet and sour relish . . . a fantastic fusion of flavors!! These burgers, made with simple, quality, easily available ingredients, are a big hit with my husband and our friends, and will no doubt be a hit with yours, too!

Ingredients 

Buttermilk Slaw:
1/2 cup quality mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup peeled and shredded carrots
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sweet n’ Sour Pickle Relish:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 cup finely diced pickle chips (fresh-packed, sweet bread & butter style, no salt added)
1 cup finely diced grape or pear tomatoes (assorted heirloom, if available)
1/3 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper

Patties:
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked kosher salt
2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck
1/2 pound trimmed and very finely minced double-hickory-smoked bacon

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
12 thin slices smoked provolone cheese
6 bakery Vienna burger rolls, split (egg-wash-glazed rolls, with a slightly crisped crust and a soft, tender interior)

Instructions 

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

To make the slaw, in a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, celery seeds, pepper and salt. In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, carrots, onions and parsley. Stir dressing into cabbage mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving, then remove from refrigerator.

To make the relish, in a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, molasses, allspice and pepper. Stir in pickles, tomatoes and bell pepper. Cover and set aside.

To make the patties, in a small bowl mix together Worcestershire, mustard, garlic, pepper and salt. Spread the ground chuck and bacon out in a large shallow pan and, handling the meat as little as possible, evenly mix sauce mixture into meat. Shape into 6 equal patties sized to fit the rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To cook the patties, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until nicely charred on the bottom and done to preference, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, top each patty with a cheese slice and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place equal portions of the slaw on each roll bottom followed by a cheese-topped patty. Lightly spread 2 heaping tablespoons of relish on top of cheese, add the roll tops and serve with napkins and a big ‘ol smile!. Makes 6 burgers.

Comments 

For this recipe, I used Hellman’s mayonnaise, a low fat buttermilk, and locally-produced smoked kosher salt from Saratoga Springs Spice Company and bacon from Hartmann’s Old World Sausage. Artisan bacon is becoming more well-known and available at the deli section of many well-stocked supermarkets and farmer’s markets. I also used Kosciusko mustard, Sargento Deli Style provolone with smoke flavor and rolls from Wegmans bakery.