Stuffed Pork Burgers with Blueberry Bacon Compote
An easy and surprisingly savory blueberry compote is quick to make and pairs fantastically with pork. Peppery baby arugula dressed with a lemon vinaigrette balances the flavors for the perfect bite.
- 4 thick-cut bacon slices, diced
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I use BLiS #9)
- 3 pounds 80% lean ground pork
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fine gray sea salt
- 6 brioche hamburger buns
- Baby arugula
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon prepared mayonnaise
To prepare the Blueberry Bacon Compote, cook the bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove the bacon from the skillet and reserve. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add the onion to the skillet with the bacon fat, cooking over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the blueberries to the skillet and continue cooking to reduce for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bacon back into the pan along with the sherry vinegar. Simmer 5 minutes more, remove from heat and reserve.
Preheat the grill for direct grilling over a hot fire, about 500°F.
Divide the pork into 12 equal parts weighing ¼ pound each. Form into balls, but try not to over-work the ground pork. (This is important to achieving a desirable burger texture.) Working on a non-stick sheet pan, form the balls into thin patties that are 1 inch larger in diameter than the hamburger buns. Place 2 tablespoons of Blueberry Bacon Compote in the center of each of 6 patties. Spread within ½ inch of the edge of each of these 6 patties (not any closer to the edge). Take a plain patty and place it on top of one of the patties with filling. Seal it well around the perimeter by pressing with your fingers, then reshape the edge to a more square profile all around (maintaining a finished patty diameter that is 1 inch larger than the buns). Repeat for the remaining 5 burgers. Brush the burgers on both sides with olive oil and season liberally with fine gray sea salt. Reserve.
Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and one tablespoon mayonnaise in a medium-size mixing bowl. Whisk together to form an emulsion. Reserve.
Brush the insides of the brioche hamburger buns with olive oil and season with fine gray sea salt. Toast lightly on the grill. Reserve.
Grill the burgers over the hot fire. Patience is key as you wait for the first side to cook, about 5 minutes (see notes that follow). Flip the burgers and continue cooking to an internal temperature of 160°F.
Transfer the cooked burgers to the bottom buns. Re-whisk the vinaigrette. Toss a couple handfuls of baby arugula in the vinaigrette to dress. Top the burgers with the arugula and the top hamburger buns and serve.
Notes on cooking stuffed burgers: While I like to cook conventional burgers hot and fast over a charcoal fire, I prefer to cook a stuffed burger more slowly. I forego the charcoal, and I take advantage of the more controllable heat of the gas burners in the Hybrid Fire Grill to do so. You’ll be amazed at the Maillard browning you can achieve when using the laser-cut grill grates in conjunction with the even heat of the gas burners. Be patient, waiting until the first side is browned before moving or flipping the burgers. Stuffed burgers are quite a bit more delicate than a standard burger, so you don’t want to move them around too much. Use care and a thin-bladed, flexible metal spatula.