Carolina Southern Burger

Pairs well with:


Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.

This recipe combines the rich African flavors the slaves brought to the south combined with the quintessential tastes of south eastern BBQ. This recipe also allowed me a personal challenge to create familiar flavors without using pork or shellfish two very important staples in North Carolina of which I do not eat either of! These burgers are also full of good stuff for you to eat!



Carolina burger
2lb ground beef (85/15)
3T apple cider vinegar
2T white vinegar
2T light brown sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp fresh black pepper
3 tsp Tabasco sauce (original)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small sweet potato (about 4-5 in long) peeled and grated

Approx 8 -9 cups of well washed, trimmed (stems removed)* chopped fresh collard greens (this will seem like a ton of greens, but don’t worry they cook down!)
6 slices beef bacon chopped (regular OR very good quality turkey bacon can also be used)
1 med sweet onion finely chopped
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic chopped finely
3-4 T cider vinegar
3 cups chicken stock (plus more if necessary)

Sweet Potato Puree
1 can “candied yams” drained
3/4 – 1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
3T brown sugar
1 T unsulfured molasses

Additional misc:
6 good quality, bakery Kaiser rolls -split
Vegetable oil (I like safflower or olive but any will do) to brush on the burgers- or you can brush the grill directly (2-3 T)


Make ahead: marinade for beef- at least 1 hour ahead of time (MUCH better if made the day before to allow flavors to blend)
In a small jar or dish with tight fitting lid- mix together everything except the beef and the grated sweet potato- shake well and put in fridge until ready to use.

To start:
Heat one side of gas grill to high heat

In a large non-reactive bowl add ground beef, pour over the marinade (made previously) add the raw grated sweet potato and gently mix this into the ground beef, combining well- but don’t over mix! Cover and put in fridge to let the flavors blend into the meat for a bit.
Start collards approx 30 minutes ahead of burgers.
Using a Dutch oven or a high heat -oven safe pot- place on grill to heat then cook chopped bacon till crispy. (If using turkey bacon you might need a tsp or so of oil too) Once cooked and crispy add onions and saute until translucent and golden. Add washed/cut collards to the pan- it will look like they won’t fit, but just pack them in there! Stir to coat them with the bacon renderings and onions- just till well mixed- then add the chicken stock and kosher salt, black pepper and chopped garlic. (Do not add vinegar yet!) Cover the pot and lower the grill temp to (med-med low) you want the collards to simmer. Do not mess with them! Cover the grill lid. They will continue to cook while you prepare & cook everything else.
In a medium bowl put in the sweet potatoes and buttermilk (start with the lesser amount) through molasses- mash well- a whisk or fork works fine. Add more buttermilk if needed so the sauce has the consistency of ketchup.

Place puree into a small oven safe sauce pan- set aside

Once collards have cooked for about 30 minutes – Turn on the other side of the grill to med high.
Remove burger mixture from the fridge- mix lightly to combine any liquid- then divide into six portions and gently form into patties flattening them slightly. Brush on the oil so burgers don’t stick. (Or brush the oil onto the grill directly.)

Remove the lid to the collards, add vinegar, and stir continue cooking with the lid off – lower this side of the grill to low-med low.

Place burgers on the pre-heated grill and cook for 5-7 minutes per side for medium. Or until done as you like.

Stir collards occasionally. If they look too dry and are starting to stick to the pot- you can add a little more chicken stock if necessary a little at a time.

Remove burgers and very loosely tent with foil and let them rest for a few minutes
Put sweet potato puree onto grill to warm up- stirring often, heat just till warm and bubbling slightly.
Put rolls on grill to warm while the sauce is warming (if desired).


Once rolls are warmed, on the bottom bun add about 1/3 (rounded) cup of collards (make sure each portion has some bacon in it!)Then a generous spoonful of sweet potato puree, a Carolina patty, another good “dollop” of sweet potato puree and the top bun – grab some napkins, don’t wear your white silk gown and ENJOY Y’ALL!!

*Washing collards:
Fill your sink ¾ full with cold water
Remove large center stem from the collards- and add to sink- swish around in the water and then let them sit in the bath for 5-10 minutes. Remove from water without mixing the water around too much- all of the dirt etc will have fallen to the bottom of you sink. Shake off excess water (drying them isn’t necessary the water that clings to the leaves will be good in the cooking process) Then roughly chop –set aside till ready to use. Approx 7-8 large stalks of collards will make about 8-9 cups chopped.