It is that time of year again, the one where we finally get to bust out our barbeques after (ideally) keeping them tucked out of water damage’s way over the winter. Huzzah! I will be the first to admit, I’m not very experienced with the barbeque, I usually leave that up to Jeremy while I remain indoors making biscuits and stews and the like. But I do love barbeque flavor, and there’s no better way to get better at something than by practicing it, so I went ahead and jumped right into the hot, fiery coals of our teeny tiny patio grill. And while it doesn’t have the simplest layout, I found this website to be very helpful. To make the burgers a bit smokier, I placed hickory smoking chips over the coals when they heated up, right before placing the patties on the grill. The chips started smoking while the patties were cooking, giving them a hint of that nice, mildly sweet smoked flavor. And then to top off the burgers, I whipped up some balsamic ketchup. Heinz made some a little bit ago, if you recall, but it wasn’t balsamic-y enough for my taste. So I added Devo’s Maple Balsamic Vinegar in the patties and mixed them into the ketchup, which ended up complimenting the smokey flavors in a really wonderful way. There was just enough tang and sweetness to round out the savoriness of the patty and the sharp cheddar cheese. I served them on a pretzel bun because honestly, who doesn’t like soft pretzels? Jeremy and I sat down to eat them and holy crapoli, they were gooooood. Like, the kind of good where nobody talks for a while and it isn’t weird because everyone’s so focused on what they’re eating. The patties were huge and really filling, but that didn’t deter Jeremy from having two of them since he liked it so much. Highly recommend making this, will be a crowd-pleaser for all types of folks, aside from vegetarians, but I have a feeling that if they tried this, even they would have to admit that it’s pretty darn tasty.
And I feel even more excited about going to the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival next weekend now that I have another cooking skill under my belt. When people are talking about charcoal grading, I won’t have to solemnly nod my head in agreement without full comprehension. Instead I’ll actually be able to contribute to the bbq-related conversation, as long as I haven’t had too many wine and hard cider samples, that is…
Also, the Shutterfly Giveaway is still going on, so don’t forget to enter to win an 8 x 8 inch custom photobook from Shutterfly. You can use it to create your own personal cookbook (like I did above), family photo album, travel scrapbook, baby book….the options are endless!
Barbequed Maple Balsamic Burger with Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Egg whisked
- 1 Small Onion cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 5 Soft Pretzel Buns
- 5 Leaves of Romaine Lettuce
- 5 Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 2 lbs Ground Beef
- 1/2 Cup Quality Ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons Hickory Smoking Chips optional
- 4 1/2 Teaspoons Devo Maple Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil for brushing the grill
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
- Some Charcoal Briquettes for the Barbeque
- In a large bowl, mix together the egg and ground beef until blended. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons of the maple balsamic vinegar, and mix until evenly combined. Cover the ground beef mixture with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to marinate for 3 hours.
- Start heating up the coals about 45 minutes before you want to grill the patties. I used charcoal briquettes for my grill. If you use instant light charcoal briquettes you should be able to just place some wadded up newspaper under the coals, light the newspaper, and then the coals will catch ablaze. If you're using regular coals, place some wadded up newspaper under the coals and drizzle some lighter fluid over the still unlit coals, about 1/4 cup. Then, drop a lit match onto the coals and step back quickly, as the fire will be large and light VERY fast. Allow the coals to heat up with the lid off the barbeque, keeping an eye on them. And of course, do not work with your grill next to anything flammable, like dry wood, brush, plants, paper, etc.
- While the coals are smoldering, make the balsamic ketchup. Using a fork or a small whisk, blend together the ketchup and the remaining 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of maple balsamic vinegar until completely combined. Set aside.
- When the coals are white on the outside and glowing orange, they are ready for grilling. Lightly brush the grill with the vegetable oil to help keep the onions and patties from getting stuck to it. Place the onion slices on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove them and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels for later.
- Sprinkle the hickory chips on the coals along the edge of the grill. Immediately place the patties on the grill, cover it, and make sure the holes on the lid are open so that the coals can breathe. Cook the patties for about 4-5 minutes, then flip them, place a slice of cheddar cheese on each one, and allow them to cook 4-5 minutes more. Then remove the patties and set them aside on a plate. If you'd like, you can also toast the buns on the grill for about 2 minutes.
- To assemble the burgers, spread 1 teaspoon of the maple balsamic ketchup on the inside of the top and bottom buns. Place the patty on top of the bottom bun, then the grilled onion, and then the romaine lettuce. Top it with the top bun and serve immediately. Enjoy!