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Southern Comforts Burger with Smoky Heirloom Tomato & Vidalia Onion Jam and Southern "Caviar" with Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette

The South is known for its simple, fresh and unpretentious foods. Southern "Caviar" is a common side dish in the south and it's humorous name is just a little nod to our cuisine's humble beginnings. We also love our fresh home-grown vegetables, especially the vine-ripened tomatoes and Vidalia onions. And of course, everything's better if you add a few slices of bacon to it. With this inspiration in mind, I've pulled some of these delicious southern comfort foods into one burger.

Ingredients 

Tomato Jam:
3 Tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Vidalia onions, diced
3 cups heirloom tomatoes, seeded, cored and diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 lemon, juiced

12 slices thick cut bacon

Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Southern Caviar:
15-oz can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced small
1/3 cup jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribbed and finely diced
3 green onions (green & white parts), diced
2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Patties:
2 lbs ground chuck
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Vegetable oil for brushing the grill rack
6 thick slices white cheddar cheese
6 seedless hamburger buns, split

Instructions 

Preheat grill to medium heat.

To make the jam, preheat olive oil in a medium sized, fireproof saucepan on the grill. Add the onions and sweat them for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, salt, sugar, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice. Stir well and allow the mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated. Stir the mixture occassionally as it reduces. Once the liquid is gone, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Using a large, heavy fire-proof skillet on the grill, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and then wrap in foil to keep warm. While reserving 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings for the vinaigrette, drain the excess drippings from the pan. Move the skillet to the edge of the grill for it to cool slightly. Carefully add the vinegar to the pan to deglaze it then drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to remove all the bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour the vinaigrette into a medium size bowl.

To make the "caviar", add the peas, red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, green onions and flat leaf parsley to the bowl containing the vinaigrette. Toss until ingredients are mixed well, cover and set aside.

To make the patties, combine the chuck, salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley and Worcestershire sauce in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly combine the ingredients, and shape into 6 equal size patties.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place a slice of cheddar on each patty and close the lid so cheese will melt. During the last minute of grilling, toast the buns by placing the cut sides down on the outer edges of the grill rack.

To assemble the burgers, place an equal portion of the tomato jam onto each bun bottom and add the cheese topped patty. Top each patty with 2 slices of bacon, and a generous spoonful of the Southern caviar. Place the bun tops on the burgers and serve.
Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

If you're having people over for a BBQ, the Southern Caviar and Tomato Jam can be made in advance. By doing so, you can spend more time with your friends and less time in the kitchen working.