At the 2011 BC Home & Design Show I faced my old friend and barbecue competitor Brian Misko in a burger throwdown, and this juicy, spicy burger was the victor. One of the judges said that the Perfect Pulled Pork topping was my “ninja in the closet” that kicked the flavor into the stratosphere. The pulled pork helped – but so did my friend Denzel Sandberg’s awesome garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather. This burger is complicated but delicious – lots of work, but well worth the effort!
Makes 6 burgers
For the burger mix:
3 lb | 1.4 kg medium ground beef
(or half-and-half ground beef and ground pork)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. | 4 mL granulated garlic
1 tsp. | 4 mL toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp | 25 mL dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne
(or more, if you like more heat)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup | 75 mL cold water
For the caramelized onions:
2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter, olive oil, or a combination of both
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL sugar
1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon
best quality balsamic vinegar
For the fried mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil
1 lb | 454 g white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
kosher salt and pepper
For Denzel’s garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather
one ½ lb. | 250 g block of cream cheese
1 cup | 250 mL mayonniase
2 Tbsp | 25 mL Worcestershire sauce
10 cloves of raw garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
For finishing the burgers:
1 lb. | 545 g Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS Perfect Pulled Pork, heated and ready to eat
Your favorite flavor of NATURAL CHAMPIONS barbecue sauce
6 hamburger buns
1 large fresh jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
To prepare the burger patties: Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix the burger ingredients together with your hands in a large nonreactive bowl. Wet your hands in cold water before you form the mixture into chunks the size of tennis balls. Flatten them into patties, placing them on the cookie sheet. Each patty will be about 1/2 lb | 250 g before cooking. Place them in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.
To prepare the caramelized onions: Heat the butter/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté them until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to sauté the onions, stirring them regularly, until they are shiny and brown, about half an hour, being careful not to burn them (add a little water, if necessary, to prevent burning). To finish them, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and mix it evenly into the onions. Set the mixture aside.
To prepare the fried mushrooms:
Add the oil, garlic clove and mushrooms to a medium-hot frying pan along with a pinch of salt. Sauté the mushrooms, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until they’re soft and brown. Squeeze some lemon juice over the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set them aside.
To prepare Denzel’s garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather:
Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly and let stand for at least half an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.
To grill the burgers:
Preheat your grill for medium direct heat. Take the burgers out of the freezer and grill them for 6 minutes per side, or until they are springy to the touch, glazing them on both sides with barbecue sauce. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, toss on the buns, cut side down, to toast them a bit.
To assemble the burgers:
Generously coat the bottom and top halves of the buns with the mayo/cream cheese slather. Place the burgers on the buns and then layer on some mushrooms, caramelized onions and a juicy dollop of pulled pork. Drizzle some barbecue sauce on top of the pork and place some thin slices of fresh jalapeño on top. Cap off the burgers with the top half of the buns. When your guests take a big, messy bite, they’ll be in hog heaven.