The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 5, 2012

Summertime is burger time

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — Obviously it’s hot outside but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to crank up the grill! I use my grill twelve months a year. For me, the only bad time to grill is in pouring rain. But, I have even done it then. After all, I have a golf umbrella and they are BIG so I can still stay dry.

 Almost any food is better when cooked on the grill. For my family, that means charcoal but I also own a gas grill when I need convenience and speed. However, hands down, burgers are better when cooked on the grill. There is nothing like the scent of a good hamburger sizzling away on the grill. But, if you are going to cook burgers, use your imagination and make them different and therefore more interesting.  You can do that somewhat with the condiments and sides but you can also do it with the burger itself.

Our first alteration is simple, BACON! Everyone, well almost everyone, loves bacon. But this burger doesn’t just have bacon it has bacon and cheese and onions. It’s sensational. The recipe is a bit reserved, it only uses one slice of bacon but I use two.

The second variation also uses bacon and uses Gouda cheese. In this one, the bacon is cooked, crumbled and added to the burger along with onion and Gouda.

The third burger isn’t beef. It’s turkey. That makes for a little less fat and calories, although not much. You can also use a combination of turkey and beef or chicken and beef.

The last recipe is for a stuffed burger. You can stuff almost anything into the middle of a burger. The kids love it. It’s like a surprise inside. This recipe has wild mushrooms and blue cheese but that’s a suggestion. Use any cheese or other ingredient that you like.

Bacon Wrapped Burgers

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 small onion, chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 pound ground beef

6 slices bacon

6 hamburger buns, split

Preheat a grill for high heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Crumble in the ground beef, and mix together by hand. Form into 6 patties, and wrap a slice of bacon around each one. Secure bacon with toothpicks.

Place patties on the grill, and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Remove toothpicks before serving on hamburger buns.

Bacon Gouda Patties

2 slices bacon

3/4 cup shredded Gouda cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

 1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

 2 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Cool and crumble into a bowl. Stir in the Gouda cheese, parsley, and Dijon mustard. Set aside.

Place the ground beef into a mixing bowl with the bread crumbs, egg, chopped garlic, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Mix until evenly blended, and form into 4 very thin patties.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate.

Cook on the preheated grill until the patties are cooked to your desired degree of doneness, about 3 minutes per side for well done. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 160 degrees F. Divide the Gouda cheese filling between two of the patties, then place the remaining patties on top. Place the burgers onto a cooler part of the grill, and heat until the cheese melts. Serve on hamburger buns.

Feta Cheese Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey

1 cup crumbled feta cheese     

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the grill for medium high heat.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, feta cheese, olives, oregano, and pepper. Mix together, and form into patties.

Lightly oil the grate. Place patties on the grill. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, turning halfway through.

Wild Mushroom, Blue Cheese Stuffed Burger

1-1/4 pound ground sirloin, (at least 80 percent lean, a.k.a. 80/20)

Salt and pepper, for seasoning

1-1/2 tablespoons hot sauce

6 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, sautéed and drained

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Mix the hot sauce into the ground meat to evenly distribute, then form your patties. Distribute the mushrooms and blue cheese evenly on top of half of the patties. Top each with another patty and press the edges together to form a seal. Cook on a hot grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on desired doneness.

Did You Know?

Get the Best Flavor

Meat with a higher fat content will be juicier but will also shrink more when it cooks. If you shop at a grocery store or a butcher that grinds their own beef, choose coarsely ground beef for juicier burgers with a more pleasing texture.

Add just about anything you like to your burger mixture. Here are a few flavoring suggestions:

• Fresh or dried herbs and spices

• Dehydrated or fresh minced onion and garlic

• Seasoning mixes for soups or salad dressings

• Your favorite cheese, such as Blue cheese, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, Feta, Stilton, Cheddar, or pepperjack

• Prepared sauces including Barbeque sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, Hoisin sauce, plum sauce, oyster sauce, salsa, or salad dressing

• Other tidbits like olives, capers, chopped tomatoes, diced chiles, crumbled bacon, or minced ham