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Smoked Heartland Burger with Bacon Home Fries and Onions

This is a great local American burger because it is the essence of the Midwest (where I grew up). The juicy corn/grain-fed beef patty is a meal in itself to feed the heartiest of eater- topped with bacon, fried potatoes, onions - boy howdy, that is some good eats. Makes me hungry just writing about it!


Hickory wood chips (about 1 to 2 cups, depending on size of smoker box)
Smoker box for a gas grill

Bacon Home fries and Onions:
1/2 pound thick-cup pepper bacon, un-cooked and chopped into large chunks
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 medium russet potatoes, washed and sliced thin (see notes)
1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin (see notes)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound grain-fed ground chuck
1 pound grain-fed ground sirloin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
9 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, sliced
6 Kaiser rolls, split
6 leaves red leaf lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
6 tablespoons prepared barbecue sauce


Place wood chips in a large bowl and add enough water to cover the wood chips. Allow wood chips to soak in the water 30 minutes. This prevents the wood chips for catching on fire. Drain the water off the wood chips and place the wood chips in the smoker box. Remove the grill grates and place the smoker box directly on the heating elements of the grill, below the grates. Replace the grates and preheat the gas grill to medium-high, approximately 400 degrees.

To make the Bacon Home fries and Onions, place a 12-inch fireproof skillet on the grill rack, over direct heat. Add the bacon and fry 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the bacon drippings in the skillet. Add the vegetable shortening to the skillet and heat until shortening is melted and hot. Carefully add the sliced potatoes and spread evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Place the sliced onions on top of the potatoes in an even layer. Cook, with the grill cover closed, approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to brown. Using a spatula, turn potatoes over; sprinkle bacon over the top of the potatoes and continue to cook another 12 minutes, or until potatoes are crispy. Transfer to a paper-towels lined platter, sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper over the potatoes.

While the potatoes are frying, begin making the patties. Combine the ground chuck, ground sirloin, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, garlic, and butter squares in a large bowl. Mix well, while handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.

Brush the pre-heated grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, around the smoker box, cover, and cook each side 4 to 6 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. when tested with a quick-read thermometer. During the last few minutes of cooking, place 1-1/2 ounce smoked cheddar cheese over each patty. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place a lettuce leaf, tomato slice, and a patty on the cut side of each roll bottom. Top each patty with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, and a portion of the Bacon Home Fries and Onions. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

I used a mandolin to achieve very thin, uniform onion and potato slices.


I may be living a mile high now, but I learned to cook in the heartland, where you raise what you eat! My roots were my inspiration for this recipe.