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Spicy Pecan Chicken Burger with Peach Vidalia Onion Salsa & Baby Greens with Sorghum Vinaigrette

Having been born and raised in Alabama, I've always been used to fresh and simple ingredients that were either grown in the family garden or easily obtained from the local farmstands, such as the Vidalia onions, baby greens, and sorghum molasses. We also had pecan trees in the yard of my childhood home so we always had plenty of pecans to use or share with neighbors. Another favorite in Alabama is Chilton County peaches. Everyone gets excited when they're in season, and it's very common for people to stop at the restaurants that line the interstate going through Chilton County just to get some fresh peach ice cream or peach cobbler. I decided to combine some of these simple and fresh local flavors into one burger.

Ingredients 

Salsa:
1 lemon, juiced
2 1/2 cups peaches, peeled, pitted & diced small
3/4 cup Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion), diced
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 cup jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribbed and finely diced

Vinaigrette:
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons sorghum molasses
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco sauce
12 slices thick cut bacon

Patties:
2 lbs ground chicken thighs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup grated Vidalia onion or other sweet onion
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Oil for brushing the grill rack
6 thick slices white cheddar cheese
6 seedless hamburger buns, split
4 oz mixed baby greens or baby lettuces
1 cup peach preserves or spreadable fruit

Instructions 

Preheat gas grill to medium heat.

To make the salsa, juice one lemon into the bottom of a medium size bowl. Add the chopped peaches to the lemon juice and toss them in the juice immediately to prevent them from browning. Add the onion, thyme and jalapeno pepper and toss well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the vinaigrette, add the lemon juice, molasses, salt, and pepper to a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Stream the olive oil into the bowl as you whisk the other ingredients to thoroughly combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Using a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill, toast the pecans until they become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer pecans to a small dish, add the Tabasco sauce, toss well and set aside. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and then wrap in foil to keep warm.

To make the patties, combine the chicken, salt, pepper, onion, and parsley 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, toss the baby greens with the reserved vinaigrette until the leaves are well coated. Place an equal portion of the dressed greens onto each bun bottom and add the cheese topped patty. Top each patty with 2 slices of bacon, and a generous spoonful of the peach salsa. Spread the cut side of each bun top with equal amounts of peach preserves; sprinkle the spiced pecans evenly over the preserves, pressing the nuts lightly into the preserves so they stick, and place the bun tops on the burgers and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

Nice ripe peaches are essential for the salsa to have good flavor. If you can't find fragrant peaches at your market, you could use a canned peach in natural juices. Don't use frozen peaches for this recipe or it will add too much liquid to the salsa.