“What do we want for dinner?”
If I had a dime for every time that call-and-response happened in this house, I’d be able to buy some amazing cuts of meat. Meat is expensive!
I walked into the fabulous meat market Oscar’s in the Adirondacks with my dad a couple of weeks ago. Oscar’s specializes in bacon. Am I the only one who starts drooling at the mere thought of a meat market full of bacon? Next to their beef bacon, hickory bacon, applewood bacon, jalapeno bacon, English, Irish and Canadian bacons were their preformed, fresh burger patties. One burger type in particular stood out because, well, it looked wonky. The meat was full of chunks of something I couldn’t quite identify from a distance. As I scootched along the glass case admiring all the porky goodness, I got close enough to catch the name on the tag; “Dirty Burgers”. In tiny little letters below the name were the words “Beef and BBQ Pork”. What? WHAT?!?
This was brilliant for a whole host of reasons.
Make your ground beef stretch further!
For starters, beef is expensive: pork shoulder (the base for my favourite pulled porks, both Number One and Number Two) is wickedly cheap. Using the far less expensive barbecue pulled pork as an extender in the beef lowers the overall cost of the burger. Don’t worry, though, they play nicely together: barbecue pulled pork brings a whole lot of flavour to the party without overwhelming the distinctive beefiness of a burger. The Evil Genius is usually a purist when it comes to burgers; salt, pepper, beef and NOTHING ELSE, but I didn’t have to work hard to sell the idea of these burgers at all. Guys love meat. More meat with your meat? BRILLIANT!
So why are my burgers filthy instead of merely dirty? I added bacon. Why? Well, shoo. You know what bacon does… It makes things delectable. Again, it’s meat upon meat upon meat. After being in Florida for four days then over at my dad’s for another three, I missed my hubby and wanted to knock a meal out of the ballpark. I was Big Papi Ortiz with this one, people. This was a home run of epic proportions bouncing off of windshields in the parking lot…
What beef should I use for the best burgers?
I’m a ground chuck girl. I love the proportion of fat to lean protein. In ground chuck’s case we’re talking about eighty/eighty five percent lean to fifteen/twenty percent fat. There was a time when that amount of fat would’ve sent me running, but I love a moist burger that’s cooked clean through and leaner ground beef just can’t deliver the moisture and flavour that the higher fat percentage does. Would I go fattier? No way, José. Then we’re just talking grease bomb. Ground chuck is my happy medium. I prefer to grind it myself because I like knowing how fresh it is and how clean my equipment is, but if you don’t have a grinder, just make friends with the folks at the meat counter and ask them to grind a chuck roast fresh for you! The fresher the beef, the better your burger will be!
Burgers with add-ins tend to fall apart
There’s no getting around it: if you add mix-ins to ground beef you have to fight the burger’s tendency to be fally aparty. You don’t want to smash the ground meat together too much because that yields a sorry hockey puck of a burger. Sad, sad, sad. So what’s the solution? I use the largest sized ring from my beloved cutter/mold set.
Do you need the cutters/molds and a scale to make this recipe? Oh gosh no. I just think they help things along. If you want to form them by hand, just try to be consistent, not smash them together too hard, and keep it a uniform thickness throughout the burger. Tapered edges tend to burn before the center of the burger is cooked and get raggedy from sticking to the grill.
How does this crazy mixed up burger taste?
It tastes like beefy, bacony, porky heaven. It made my burger purist husband so happy I thought he was going to burst. All of my boys inhaled these burgers like their middle names were all Hoover. And me? I loved them. I loved them madly. A perfectly grilled beef burger by itself is a very good thing, but a perfectly grilled beef burger studded with flavour bursts of barbecue pulled pork and crispy bits of bacon, topped with melted pepperjack cheese, tangy barbecue sauce, and tender lettuce on a toasted bun is my idea of bliss.
Mix up extra and freeze those burgers!
You can most definitely make a double batch of these! If you form them on the parchment like I suggest, you’re one step closer to a freezer stash of these burgers that are ready to pop on the grill. Just drape a quick piece of plastic wrap over the pan and stick it in the freezer until the burgers are solid.
You can then stack them (with parchment between the patties) in a freezer bag and keep there for up to three months or until you’re ready to grill. Put them straight onto the grill without thawing and cook like you would any frozen burger patty. Are you getting Independence Day party ideas yet? A plate full of meat always works here!
- Which pulled pork should I use in the recipe? I love using Slow-Cooker Cola Barbecue Pork in here because of the oomph from the chipotle pan juices. If you want a milder flavour, use my Slow-Cooker Cuban Pork. If you’re in a hurry, grab a deli-pack of purchased pulled pork from the store. I won’t tell!
- Don’t undercook your bacon here! We are a house divided on bacon. I like it crispy bordering on petrified: The Evil Genius loves it chewy. The kids all fall somewhere in between. For this recipe, you want to be sure to cook the bacon all the way to the crispy point because it will soften ever so slightly when it’s mixed in with the more moist ground chuck.
- While I like these best grilled, they’re darned good when pan fried.
I asked a question on our Foodie with Family facebook community but I want to ask it here, too. Are you a burger purist? Or do you like your burgers gussied up? Are you willing to try a Filthy Burger? I think you oughta… Filthy (at least in this case) is good!
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- ½ pound of bacon, cooked until crisp through, drained and crumbled
- 2 cups fully cooked barbecue pulled pork roughly chopped with a knife
- 1½ pounds ground chuck
- kosher salt
- Toasted burger buns
- tender lettuce (like mixed spring greens or butter lettuce)
- slices of pepperjack or Monterey jack cheese or deli American
- barbecue sauce
- Using clean hands, mix together the ground chuck, pulled pork, and bacon until everything is evenly distributed.
- For the most uniform burgers, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 5 ounces of the meat mixture to a ring mold and gently press it into the edges of the mold forming a uniformly thick burger patty. Gently pull the ring mold straight up and tap down any edges that come up with it. Replace the ring mold on the parchment next to the burger and form another until all the meat mixture has been pressed into patties. Don't despair if you have a little meat that doesn't make a full burger. That can be your test patty and cook's tax. Eat that bad boy!
- Place the tray with the burgers in the refrigerator while you preheat the grill to MEDIUM HIGH heat. After cleaning the hot grill, gently place the burgers over direct heat and sprinkle with kosher salt. Keep a spray bottle of water handy for flare-ups. Do not move the burgers once you've placed them on the grill until the brown (cooked) area goes at least halfway up the burger and you can easily slide your spatula under them, about 4 minutes. If there are flames flaring up because of fat from the burger, give them a little spritz with water. That should help long enough to cook the burger to the point where it will turn more easily. Flip the burgers carefully and continue grilling over MEDIUM HIGH heat until there are grill marks on the underside of the burger. Transfer the burgers over to one side of the grill and shut off the burners immediately under the burgers, turning the remaining burners onto MEDIUM LOW heat. This means your burgers will finish over indirect heat. When the interior temperature of the beef is 5°F below the point you like it (RARE: 125-130°F. MEDIUM: 140-150. WELL: 160-212°F.), lay the slices of pepperjack cheese or deli American on the burgers and use a spatula to immediately transfer them to a sided tray. Let them rest, lightly tented with foil, until the cheese is melted. Serve on top of tender greens on a toasted bun with as much barbecue sauce as you fancy!
This post was originally published May 31st, 2011.