For the Love of Pork
2 T coarsely ground pepper (Whole Black Peppercorns)
1.5 tsp Salt
2 & ¼ lbs fresh Ground Pork (80-85% Lean)
½ C ketchup
½ C Cherry Preserves (Bonne Maman brand recommended)
1 ¼ C frozen Sweet Red Cherries, pitted
1 T Worcestershire
1 T Honey
1 ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¾ tsp Fennel Seeds
1/3 C White Onion, diced
1 tsp Garlic, minced
12 strips of Bacon, center-cut
6 bakery egg roll sandwich buns (4 to 4 ½ inches in diameter)
3 C of Arugula
Vegetable oil, for brushing grill
6 ounces of Havarti Cheese
Grind black peppercorns (coarse grind). Mix the ground pepper and salt in a small dish (spices). Place pork on a sheet tray lined with wax paper. Divide the pork into 6 equal portions (1). Carefully shape each portion into a loosely formed patty measuring about ¾ inch thick and about 4 ½ inches in diameter, or slightly larger than the bun (2). Space the patties evenly on the tray. Take half of the spices and sprinkle evenly on top of the patties. Flip each patty over and sprinkle the remaining spices on the other side. Now, press your thumb into the center of each patty making an indentation no deeper than a ¼ an inch (3). Cover the patties with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator.
For Sauce & Toppings:
In a blender, add: ketchup, preserves, cherries, worcestershire, honey, cayenne and fennel. Blend on high for 10-15 seconds, or until a smooth consistency is reached. Finely chop onion and mince garlic; set aside.
Place a cast iron skillet or another heat safe pan on the grill. Light the grill, and set to low-medium heat. Cut the 12 bacon strips in half. Once the grill reaches the desired temperature, lay 1/2 of the bacon pieces into the skillet. Cook bacon for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until bacon turns golden and edges look crisp. Using grill tongs, transfer the cooked bacon onto a paper towel lined-plate and cover with tin foil.
Before cooking the remaining bacon, pour off and discard the skillet’s fat. Return the skillet to the grill, and cook the remaining bacon to the same doneness as first batch of bacon. Transfer the cooked bacon to the paper towel lined-plate and cover with foil.
Pour off and discard ½ of the bacon fat in the skillet, or an amount so that the skillet remains heavily coated with fat (4). Now, add the chopped onions to the fat; sauté for 3-4 minutes on low-medium heat, or until onions appear limp and translucent (5). Next add the garlic to the onions and sauté for one minute. Pour the blended mixture into the onions and garlic. Stir often and cook the sauce over medium heat for 5 minutes (sauce should bubble slightly). Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Remove the skillet from grill, and reserve sauce for later use.
Using a serrated knife, split each bun into top and bottom halves, if not already pre-sliced. Taking the buns’ tops and bottoms, place cut-side down on the grill. Toast buns on low-medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until browned. Remove toasted buns and place on a large serving tray. Raise the grill to high heat and close the lid. While grill heats, spread 2 T of sauce on the bottom of each bun. Next, pile on ½ C of arugula on top of each bun’s sauce.
For Grilling & Assembling:
Brush the grill grates with vegetable oil. Place the tray of patties beside the grill. Remove each patty and swiftly place on to grill, keeping patties spaced enough from one another to ease flipping. Immediately, close the grill’s lid and cook for 3 ½ to 4 minutes per side (7-8 minutes total). Flip burgers only once-when cooked half way through. During the last minute of cooking, lay a slice of cheese over the burger and close the lid (6).
Place the grilled burgers on top of the arugula. Take 4 pieces (2 full strips) of bacon and lay over the melted cheese. Finally, cap each burger with bun tops. Let’s eat!