Bourbon Apple Surprise Burger
1 cup chopped onion (preferred Vidalia)
3 Gala apples
3/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
1/4 lb sliced apple-wood smoked bacon
1 tsp. smoked paprika
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 lb. freshly ground chuck, 80% lean
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. fine ground white pepper, fresh if possible
3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. award winning barbecue sauce (preferred Sweet Baby Ray\’s!)
6 Kaiser rolls
12 slices Provolone cheese, fresh cut thin to medium thickness
Chop onion to half inch squares. Set aside.
Using a mandolin slicer set to 1/16 – 1/8 inch (approximately the thickness of an onion layer) slice apples from the side being careful not to include any core in the slices. Repeat from opposite side and remove the 6 largest round slices and place them in a small bowl submerged in bourbon. Finish slicing the apples until a square cores remain, throw away cores and chop remaining apples (NOT INCLUDING the 6 in the bourbon bowl) into 1/2 inch squares and set aside.
Chop sliced bacon into 1/2 inch wide pieces and set aside.
Mix smoked paprika into softened butter, cover and set aside
In large bowl, combine ground chuck, salt, black pepper, white pepper, 3 tbsp of bbq sauce, and 2 tbsp of bourbon (from bowl with apples). With clean, moistened hands, mix all ingredients thoroughly, being careful not to over-mix.
Shape into 12 equal sized, flat, round patties (appx 1/4 lb ea.). Remove apple slices from bourbon and gently press each one flat into the center of 6 of the 12 patties. Take remaining 6 patties and place on top of each of the 6 “apple-patties”. Carefully stitch and massage the edges of the double patties around the entire circumference, reforming into 6 apple-centered, 1/2-lb burger patties. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a medium frying pan over medium to medium high heat (may vary with grill specs), brown the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp but not brittle. Add the onions and cook until they turn translucent (3-5 min.) then add the chopped apples and remaining bourbon from the bowl. Reduce or flambe the alcohol from the bourbon then add the remaining 3/4 cup bbq sauce. Cook for a few more minutes allowing flavors to marry and ensuring sauce is not too thin. Place in bowl, cover, and set aside.
Allow grill to heat to high, place burgers on grill offset from flame to prevent flare-ups, immediately lower heat to medium or medium low and close lid. Grill for 3-5 minutes per side for medium.
Dressing and Plating:
During the last 2 – 3 minutes of grilling on second side, spread 2 or 3 tablespoons of the sauce on top of each patty. Cut rolls and place cut side down on higher rack or cooler section of grill for light toasting. Place 2 slices of provolone cheese on each burger, covering the sauce. Close lid and allow cheese to melt and buns to toast. Remove buns when toasted, remove burgers when cheese is melted, and place burgers on bun bottoms. Brush toasted side of bun tops with smoked paprika butter, place on top of burgers and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.