Barbecue Pork Burgers

Ground pork is a lot like ground beef. It is easy to prepare, quick cooking and can be used by itself or in a variety of casseroles, meat loaves, meatballs, and other entrees.

The other day, a friend of mine, Bob Sullivan, was looking for suggestions for some ground pork that was part of a purchase of a half-pig. I told him my favorite use was to combine it with ground bison, elk or venison and make meatballs.

But after I got home from the gym, my first inclination was to go to the Internet to search for some other uses.

What caught my eye was the following recipe for Barbecue Pork Burgers that appeared in Redbook magazine a few years ago.

The burgers, which can be made in 10 minutes, are cooked on the grill and would be perfect the next couple of days, when temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-30s to almost 40 degrees.

Barbecue Pork Burgers
½ pound ground pork
½ cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon(s) Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon(s) salt
¼ teaspoon(s) pepper
2 ounces sliced Monterey Jack or Muenster cheese
4 (hamburger buns) split, grilled or toasted
1 1/3 cups coleslaw
Potato chips, for garnish
Pickles, for garnish
Prepare grill.
In a medium bowl, gently mix pork, ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Divide mixture evenly into 4 patties.
Grill burgers 5 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through, brushing them with the remaining ¼ cup barbecue sauce. Place cheese on burgers during last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking time, with grill covered, to melt cheese.
Place each burger on bottom of each hamburger bun; top with coleslaw, dividing evenly. Serve with potato chips and pickles, for garnish.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 591 calories, 34 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein.

Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers

Pork is known as the other white meat. And with the trend of eating two servings or less of red meat a week, it’s become popular alternative.

But there’s another white meat that deserves consideration. That’s turkey breast.

The following burger recipe from J.M. Hirsch, national food editor for The Associated Press, features the turkey tenderloin — a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird’s breasts. Hirsch says like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven and working well with any flavor or marinade.

Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers
1 large egg
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch kosher salt
1¼ pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into large chunks
2 ounces prosciutto
4 hamburger buns
4 ounces manchego cheese
Heat a grill to medium. Oil the grates, or coat them with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, garlic powder, mustard powder, paprika, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine the turkey and prosciutto. Pulse until the meat is well chopped but still chunky, about 10 seconds total. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again if any large pieces remain unchopped.
Transfer the meat to the bowl with the egg mixture, then mix well. Form the meat into 4 loose patties. They will be moist and not hold together well.
Use a spatula to carefully place the burgers on the grill and cook, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the burgers — they should be firm enough to move easily now — and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until they read 165 degrees at the center. Top each burger with a quarter of the cheese, then serve on a bun.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 31 percent of calories from fat, 15 grams fat (6 grams saturated, no trans), 145 milligrams cholesterol, 23 grams carbohydrates, 52 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 1,070 milligrams sodium.

Brie, Apple and Smoked Turkey Croissant Panini

Apples, pickles and cheese. Now, there’s a combination that’s hard to beat. Combine them them turkey breast and some nice bread slathered with honey mustard, and you have the makings of a pretty tasty sandwich.

I came across a recipe for such a sandwich today in a release from the Wheat Food Council, which was promoting National Bread Month.

The sweet and savory sandwich is heated on a panini press and is ready to eat  in 5 minutes. And if you don’t have a press, no worry. Simply improvise with two skillets and a heat-proof weight such as a tea kettle.

Brie, Apple and Smoked Turkey Croissant Panini
2 medium croissants, regular or whole wheat, sliced in half crosswise (see note)
2 tablespoons cranberry mustard or honey mustard
4 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey breast
2 sweet or dill gherkins, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 slices brie, about 1 ounce each
½ medium Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, thinly sliced
Spread mustard on  the cut sides of the croissants. On one side of each croissant, lay half the turkey, pickles, brie and apple. Top each sandwich with the othe half of the croissant.
If  you are usng a panini press, place the sandwiches in the press, close it and cook over low heat for about 4 minutes, until cheese has melted and the bread is crisp.
If you do not have a press, put the sandwiches in a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and set another skillet (large enough to cover the sandwiches but small enough to sit down inside the first skillet) on top of the sandwiches. Weigh the top skillet down with a small, heavy saucepan, a tea kettle filled with water or other heat-proof weight (a clean brick will work, for example). Cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove top skillet, flip the sandwich, replace the top skillet (and weight) and cook for about 2 more minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bread is crisp.
Cut sandwiches in half and serve hot.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 440 calories, 22 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 21 grams fat (12 grams saturated), 90 milligrams cholesterol, 1,290 milligrams sodium.
Note: To lower the total fat, use whole wheat or Italian bread in place of the croissant.

The Howie Burger

Show me a person who doesn’t like a burger cooked on the grill, and I’ll show you a vegetarian. Let’s face, anyone who eats meat would find it hard to turn down a nicely formed patty on a fresh bun that came from the backyard barbecue.

But what constitutes a good burger?

The Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen put that question to its readers recently for the second year in a row in its Battle of the Burgers contest. When all was said and done, food editors and staff sampled 20 recipes from more than 140 that were submitted from all over the country and were chosen by an online nationwide vote.

“It was tough, but after days of testing, exhaustive judging (and maybe a little post-burger napping), we came up with five favorites,” said Noelle Carter of the Times food staff.

Here is one them, The Howie Burger, which was submitted by Paul Lindsay of Pasadena, Calif. Lindsay said, “My Uncle Howie … had a great love of Dijon mustard and onions. So I took it a step further.”

The Howie Burger
4 8-ounce ground beef patties
8 slices Gruyere cheese
2 cups Howie red onions, or to taste (recipe follows)
Scant ¾ cup Dijonnaise, or to taste (recipe follows)
4 hamburger buns or English muffins
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 pound red onions
1 quart red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut the red onions into one-eighth-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, making sure everything is dissolved
In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, combine the onions and vinegar mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the onions are softened, light pink to purple in color and slightly translucent, about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass baking dish and cool before using.
Yield: 2 cups.
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and ground black pepper. Mix in the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
Yield: 2 2/3 cups.
Note: This is more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The Dijonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side for medium.
Just before pulling the burgers off the grill, top each patty with one-half cup Howie onions. Place 2 slices Gruyere over the onions and continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted. Remove and set aside in a warm place.
Toast the buns on the grill, and slather the top half of each with a scant 3 tablespoons Dijonnaise. Place about 1 cup shredded lettuce on the bottom of each toasted bun, place the burger on top and then cover with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,103 calories, 66 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 64 grams fat (22 grams saturated), 224 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams sugar, 1,501 milligrams sodium.

Cheyenne Burger

A Fourth of July get-together without burgers would like Thanksgiving without turkey, St. Patrick’s Day without corned beef, syttende mai without lefse.

Here’s a recipe from the king of burgers himself, Bobby Flay. It’s adapted from a recipe in “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes” (Crown Publishing, $25.95).

The Cheyenne Burger has something for everyone. It is topped with two slices of crisp-cooked bacon, a slice of smoky Cheddar cheese, onion rings and some parsley and then is slathered with barbecue sauce.

Cheyenne Burger
1½ pounds ground chuck (or ground turkey)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ tablespoons canola oil
4 slices (½ ounce each) smoked sharp Cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns
½ cup favorite barbecue sauce
8 slices crisp-cooked bacon
Fried onion rings (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Form each portion loosely into a ¾-inch-thick burger; make a deep depression in the center of each with your thumb. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Preheat the grill to high. Brush burgers with the oil. Grill them until nicely seared on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear them on the second side, about 4 minutes for medium-rare. During the last minute of cooking, top with cheese and cover to melt the cheese.
Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and slather each with barbecue sauce. Top with bacon, onion rings if using, parsley and bun tops. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.

Portabella Blue Cheese Burgers

Burgers on the grill might be the one food that people most associate with summer. But not all burgers are created equal. In fact, not all burgers are made with meat.

Granted, there’s something about a meat burger, be it beef, venison, elk or a combination of any or all them, that makes them very appealing. Right now, the burger meat in our freezer is a combination of elk and ground beef. All in all, it’s about 90 percent lean, with just the right amount of fat to hold the burgers to together.

I’m not averse to having a burger that doesn’t contain meat. I’ve eaten my share of turkey burgers and have found them quite tasty. But my favorite meatless alternative is the portabella mushroom burger, which is naturally low in calories and can be grilled or broiled.

The portabella looks like an overgrown version of a button mushroom. The best ones for burgers are about 5 inches or so in diameter. We’ve had them occasionally on the Foreman but never on our gas grill. And we’ve found them great when they’re cooked with a little balsamic vinegar.

Here’s a recipe in which the “gills” are removed from the portabellas so they won’t darken the blue cheese topping. A few caramelized red onions enhances the burger even more.

Portabella Blue Cheese Burgers
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled, pressed
4 large (about 4 to 5 inches in diameter) portabella mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
1 large red onion, peeled, thinly sliced (2½ to 3 cups)
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup ruby port or favorite sweet red wine
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces)
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns or favorite bun or roll
1 cup arugula
4 thick slices tomato
In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar and garlic. Brush the mixture all over the mushrooms and let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add red onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add water and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is browned and very soft, about 15 minutes. Add port and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes more. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and cover.
Preheat grill to medium.
Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Grill, gill side down, for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over and top each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Grill until the mushrooms are tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Toast buns. Divide the onions among the mushrooms. Serve (cheese side up) on buns with arugula and tomato slices.
Note: Gorgonzola is a good substitute for blue cheese. You can also use a milder cheese such as fontina or asiago.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 339 calories, 45 percent of calories from fat), 17 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 37 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 702 milligrams sodium, 11 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams fiber.

The Perfect Burger

Grilling season is well under way, and nobody knows this better than the millions of backyard barbecuers across the country. And with Father’s Day just around the corner, you can be sure that grills will be getting a good workout in the next few days.

As most will agree, there is nothing better than a nice burger the grill. And with that in mind, here’s a burger recipe from the “Good Housekeeping Grilling” cookbook that’s available now through the end of June for $5 from Kohl’s Department Stores. (The cookbook can be purchased at all Kohl’s stores or online at

The cookbook deal is part of the company’s Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program, which gives 100 percent of the net profit from the sale of featured books to plush toys to benefit kids’ health and education initiatives in communities nationwide. Since the program’s inception more than 10 years ago, Kohl’s has raised more than $208 million to help kids.

The Perfect Burger
4 12-inch bamboo skewers
1¼ pounds ground beef chuck
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 large sweet onion (12 ounces), such as Vidalia or Maui, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
4 hamburger buns, split
4 green-leaf lettuce leaves
2 ripe medium tomatoes (6 to 8 ounces each), thinly sliced
Soak skewers in hot water to cover at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling over medium heat, or preheat ridged grill pan over medium heat until very hot.
Shape ground beef into 4 ¾-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle pepper and ¾ teaspoon salt on both sides of patties. Thread 1 skewer through the center of each onion slice. Sprinkle onion with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
Place burgers and onion on hot grill; cook 8 to 10 minutes for medium or to desired doneness, turning over once. Onion should be browned and tender. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, add buns, cut sides down, to grill. Grill just until toasted. Serve burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Yield: 4 burgers.
Note: This recipes is reprinted with permission from “The Good Housekeeping Grilling” cookbook (copyright 2011) by Hearst Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing.

Cilantro Pesto Burgers

With Memorial Day just around the corner, most people have their menu planned. And you can bet that there will be burgers served at a lot of get-togethers on the day set aside to honor our veterans. And it’s the perfect time, since May is generally considered to be National Burger Month across America.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m planning to fix burgers on the grill Monday. Besides my regular burgers, I’m going to try a recipe from Hubert Keller’s “Burger Bar” (Wiley, 168 pages) for Cilantro Pesto Burgers. Luckily, I have several of the ingredients on hand, including pesto and fresh cilantro.

Keller is well-known in culinary circles. His reputation was made at San Francisco’s renowned Fleur de Lys as well as his inventive Burger Bar at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay and, Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco.

Here’s the recipe, along with five tips for grilling the best burgers, from Mark Bucher, founder of BGR The Burger Joint, which has locations throughout 10 states and the District of Columbia and offers award-winning prime, dry aged beef burgers, turkey burgers and veggie burgers. (The grain-fed beef burgers are made from all natural beef that contains no fillers. The restaurant chain focuses on providing healthier, fresher gourmet food options, served fast, including asparagus fries.)

1. Start natural. The best burgers are created by using good ingredients. Start with the best ingredients, no matter what kind of burgers you are making. Opt for the most natural, pure base that you can get. For example, if you are making beef burgers, opt for ground brisket that is free of hormones, antibiotics and fillers.
2. Prep the burger. Season your burger with a little sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and brush both sides with a small amount of canola oil. This will help prevent it from sticking to the grill, as well as giving it even more flavor.
3. Grill to perfection. Keep an eye on the grilling process of your burger. Burgers that are overcooked will become dried out. In order to get this right, you have to know how everyone prefers their burger, from slightly pink to well done, and everything in between. With practice, this is an area that can be mastered. Only flip once and use a theomometer to gauge doneness.
4. Choose your bun. Having a good bun to put the burger on should not be overlooked. Don’t skimp when it comes to the buns. Opt for a sesame coated brioche bun. One that is fresh and is going to add to the overall flavor.
5. Offer terrific toppings. Having an array of toppings can really make a big difference in burger taste. Along with the traditional condiments and veggies that people commonly add to their burgers, consider some new flavors, such as guacamole, salsa or grilled pineapple.

Cilantro Pesto Burgers
2 pounds ground chuck, chilled
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices provolone cheese
4 ciabatta buns
1 large tomato, sliced
Large handful arugula
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed
12 roasted, salted macadamia nuts
1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste
2 cups packed arugula
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/3 teaspoon grated lime zest
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and cut into 4 thick slices
4 to 6 soaked bamboo skewers
For the pesto: Finely chop the nuts and garlic in a food processor. Add the cilantro, arugula, lime juice and zest and process to coarse puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process until smooth. Pulse in the cheese and season to taste. The pesto will keep, chilled, up to two days.
In a bowl, mix the meat, ¼ cup of the pesto and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Divide the meat into four evenly sized patties and chill several hours or overnight.
Preheat the barbecue for the onions. Whisk together the oil, mustard, honey and vinegar, and set aside. Thread 1 or 2 skewers through each onion slice. Brush the onions with the oil mixture and season with salt and pepper, then grill them for 15 minutes, flipping several times as they caramelize.
Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper, and grill for 7 to 10 minutes to desired doneness. For the last minute or two of cooking, drape a slice of cheese over each burger to melt.
To serve, spread the bun bottoms with pesto. Top with tomato and arugula. Add the patties and then a grilled onion.
Note: Time-pressed cooks may substitute a purchased basil pesto and sauteed onions.
Yield: Serves 4.

Andouille and Beef Burgers with Spicy Mayo and Caramelized Onions

What constitutes a good burger? Obviously, the patty is the most essential part. But if you discount the toppings, you’re missing a very important part of the equation.

I like to season my patties with a little salt, lemon pepper, Montreal Steak Seasoning as well as garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. This combination guarantees that my burgers are moist, have a lot of flavor and don’t turn into something that resembles hockey pucks when they are cooked on the grill.

As far as toppings, I like ketchup, mustard, fried onions, a slice of dill pickle and sometimes a dab of horseradish for a little extra kick. And there was a time I also liked to put a few potato chips on my burgers, a favorite of two of my cousins, Gordy and Dick.

Here’s a recipe from that looks as if  it would pass my test for a good burger. Especially appealing is the andouille sausage, a heavily smoked meat, and the spicy mayo, which gives the burger a distinct Cajun or Creole taste.

Andouille and Beef Burgers with Spicy Mayo and Caramelized Onions
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning blend
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ pound andouille sausage, cut into scant 1/4-inch cubes
¾ cup pecans, toasted, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ pounds ground beef chuck or ground beef (20 percent fat)
1½ pounds onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing grill rack
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
6 large hamburger buns, split
8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
12 pickled okra pods, halved lengthwise
3 cups watercress tops
For spicy mayo, mix all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
For burgers, toss first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add beef; blend gently. Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Transfer patties to small baking sheet. (Also can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
For onions, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Toss onions and next 3 ingredients in large skillet. Place skillet on grill; cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Remove from grill; season with salt and pepper.
Brush grill rack with olive oil. Grill buns, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer buns to work surface. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn over; sprinkle with cheese. Grill until burgers are cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium. Place some onions, then burger, on each bun bottom. Top each with okra and watercress. Spread mayonnaise on cut side of bun tops; place on burgers. Serve with remaining mayonnaise.
Yield: Serves 6.

Triple Smoke Burger

Memorial Day is just around the corner. The unofficial kickoff to summer is the day when a lot of people break out their grill for the first time. And you can bet that there will be a lot of burgers on those backyard menus.

I’ve been grilling outdoors for a couple of months with the early spring and mild weather we’ve had. We’ve eaten everything from pheasant to elk to salmon. And yes, burgers.

I’m always looking for new burger recipes, so that’s why my eyes lit up after coming across an email from the folks at The Internet missive said to keep Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel on your radar because she has “top recipes, tips and tricks for flame-kissed fare and light, summery bits that will dazzle your palate” at the website.

Included are an all-grill menu for effortless summer entertaining, an entire menu of recipes, drink ideas and a step-by-step timeline for the perfect grill session. And there’s my favorite, top 21 burger recipes.

The burger recipes aren’t just for meat lovers, either. They include beef, turkey, cheese, veggie, and more. Here’s one that caught my eye.

Triple Smoke Burger
½ cup mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced chipotle in adobo, including some sauce, divided
8 bacon slices
1½ pounds ground beef chuck (not lean)
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 large red onion, cut into 4 ½ -inch thick rounds, each stuck with a wooden pick to keep it together
1 firm-ripe avocado, quartered lengthwise, peeled, and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch thick slices
Olive oil for brushing on onion and avocado
4 hamburger buns, grilled or toasted
Lettuce, cilantro sprigs (optional)
In a food processor or blender, purée mayonnaise, mustard, and 1 tablespoon chipotle; transfer to a bowl.
Cook bacon in batches in a skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain.
Gently mix beef with 1 tablespoon chipotle, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt until combined. Form into 4 (4-inch) patties.
Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).
Meanwhile, brush both sides of onion rounds and avocado slices with olive oil.
Oil grill rack then grill onion rounds, turning over once, until slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes total. Discard wooden picks.
Grill avocado slices, turning once, until grill marks appear, about 30 seconds on each side.
Grill patties, covered only if using a gas grill, until they reach 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 5 to 6 minutes on each side.
Put sauce on buns and make burgers with lettuce, avocado, bacon, onion, and cilantro.
Yield: Serves 4.