RECIPES: Recipe Details

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New Orleans Family Reunion Burger

My grandfather was born and raised in New Orleans, and when I was a kid my family went back every summer to visit. From my earliest memories, New Orleans food was an amazing combination of sweet and savory, hot and mild, exotic and familiar. Spicy yet comforting gumbo, sweet and creamy pralines, beef-stuffed bell peppers with olives, French being spoken with a southern accent: the food, like my family, was also a blending of cultures and traditions. For me, this burger represents my favorite elements of New Orleans (aside from the music and the people).

Ingredients 

Non-stick cooking spray
6 oz dried chorizo sausage
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup apricot preserves
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup dried cherries
2 pounds ground chuck
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 oz goat cheese log
6 medium sized buttermilk biscuits
12 teaspoons butter
12 large jalapeño stuffed green olives (can also use pimento stuffed olives if unable to find jalapeno)

Instructions 

Spray grill with non-stick cooking spray then heat to medium high. Thinly slice chorizo into rounds and place in a single layer on a sheet of aluminum foil (tear large enough piece to fit all the chorizo in a single layer, plus have a ½ inch border on all sides). Fold up sides of foil so top is still exposed but juices from the cooking chorizo will not spill out of the foil, making a wall about ½ inch tall on all sides. Place the pecans on another piece of foil and fold sides up in the same way. Whisk together apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon black pepper in a small, fire-proof sauce pan. Place chorizo, pecans, and apricot-vinegar mixture on the heated grill at the same time.

Occasionally stir apricot-vinegar sauce while cooking the chorizo and pecans, and remove from heat once the mixture has a slightly thinner than syrup consistency (it should coat the back of a spoon). Allow chorizo to become crispy, flipping occasionally to cook evenly on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Once crispy around the edges, remove chorizo from the grill, place on paper towels to drain, and set aside.

Stir pecans for 2-3 minutes, allowing nuts to toast lightly. Once toasted, add butter and brown sugar, and stir nuts around until all are coated. Toast for 1-2 minutes longer, until nuts are a deep brown and sugar has started to caramelize. At this point, remove nuts from grill and set aside.

Grind dried cherries in food processor until they resemble a coarse crumb consistency. Place ground chuck in a large mixing bowl and add cherries, pecans, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed, but do not over mix. Slice goat cheese into 6 slices. Separate the beef into 6 patties and press 1 piece of goat cheese into each patty. Cover cheese over with beef and reform into patties. Lightly spray both sides of patties with cooking spray, then place on the grill.

Grill burgers for 4 minutes on the first side with grill cover closed, then flip and baste side that is now facing up with apricot-vinegar sauce. Grill for another 3 minutes on the second side with the grill cover closed, then flip again and baste the side that is facing up at this point. Continue basting and flipping every 2-3 minutes with grill cover open to desired doneness, (because of the cheese in the middle, my meat thermometer proved unreliable in determining doneness. Instead, I would suggest pressing on the burgers with a finger or cutting one of the burgers open to determine doneness). On my grill it was 10 minutes total for medium, 15 minutes for well done. In the last 3 minutes of grilling, slice biscuits in half and place cut side down on the grill. Grill until lightly toasted on side facing down, then flip. Place 1 teaspoon of butter on each biscuit side and grill until butter has melted. Once butter has melted, remove biscuits from grill and set on serving platter. Slice olives and set aside.

To assemble burgers: place a burger on 6 of the biscuit halves. Top with chorizo and olives, then top with remaining biscuit halves. Burgers are ready to serve.