Bringing Home The Bacon … Burgers!
Bacon Burgers with Pancetta and Balsamic Onion Jam
WOW… what more can you say about this recipe we found in the Fine Cooking Grilling 2016 issue? We think we make pretty, darn tasty burgers, but this recipe blew them all away and is well worth the effort (actually, pretty minimal effort) of making the Pancetta and Balsamic Onion Jam. Of course, if bacon is not your thing, then this recipe isn’t for you.
The Fine Cooking recipe is for bacon burgers with bacon, onion, balsamic jam but we are really more pancetta fans. After first discovering pancetta on a long-ago trip to Italy, I almost always use pancetta when a recipe calls for bacon. (I did use bacon in the burger because I was not sure the pancetta would get fully cooked in the burger.)From Fine Cooking, “… Bacon and pancetta are both made from pork bellies; the difference between them lies in how they’re prepared and cured. To make bacon, pork belly sides are brined and then smoked … Pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, is made by seasoning a pork belly side with salt and lots of pepper, curling it into a tight roll, and wrapping it in a casing to hold the shape. It’s cured, but it isn’t smoked.”
Use high-quality thick-cut bacon and pancetta. I usually purchase the pancetta in the deli section of the market, but recently it has been mostly fat; so, I have been using Boar’s Head diced, uncured pancetta instead, which isn’t as fatty.
As for the hamburger, try to use 80% or 85% lean beef. Anything leaner and you will lose flavor and it will be dry. While grilling the burgers, don’t open the lid! And only turn them once, maybe twice. This allows a yummy, delicious crust to form so that the burgers will easily release from the grill when you turn the patties.
Serve the burgers on toasted buns (try our favorite, a Brioche bun), topped with the Pancetta and Balsamic Onion Jam and a small handful of peppery baby arugula. Let the summer begin!
FOR THE JAM:
4 oz. pancetta, diced OR
4 thick slices Applewood-smoked bacon cut crosswise into ½ inch strips
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. good quality balsamic vinegar
½ t. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar (optional)
In a heavy-duty skillet or Sauté pan with lid, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until cooked but not quite crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
Add the onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, add two tablespoons of water, and stir. Cover and continue to cook, occasionally stirring, until the onions are soft and beginning to color, about 10 minutes.
In a one-cup measuring cup, add the vinegar and 1/3 c. water. Whisk in the sugar (optional) and mustard and pour over the onions. Return the cooked pancetta to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has thickened and most of it has been absorbed about 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 days (bring to room temperature or gently reheat before using).
2 thick slices Applewood-smoked bacon, minced
1 ½ lb. ground beef (80% or 85% lean)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 brioche or hamburger buns
Optional garnish: baby arugula
Prepare your grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400°F to 450°F).
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the minced bacon, ground beef, Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Gently combine until well mixed but not overworked. Form into four equal patties, each ¾ to 1 inch thick. Press your thumb or the back of a spoon into the center of each patty to create a deep indentation. This will keep them from swelling up into mini basketballs on the grill.
Grill the burgers over direct heat, with the lid closed, until grill marks form (4-5 minutes). (Keep an eye on the temperature … 475 for us on the gas grill … and try not to open the lid while cooking … trust me on this!) Flip the burgers shut the lid (don’t look!), and grill for 4 to 5 minutes more for medium. Add an extra minute for well done. Transfer the burgers to a plate and tent them with foil.
To serve, top the burgers with the Pancetta and Balsamic Onion Jam and a small handful of arugula.
Makes 4 burgers plus extra jam.
Recipe lightly adapted from Fine Cooking