Mouth Full of South with Pimento Cheese and Green Tomato Marmalade
On a whim one day, my then boyfriend and I took a road trip from Orlando to Boston, driving through the south.Viewing the gorgeous southern states gave us a whole new appreciation for our beautifully diverse country. We stopped at many local restaurants that seemed as old as the cities themselves; many of which had some version of Pimento cheese. Being a northern gal, I had never tried it, but soon fell in love- with both the cheese and my boyfriend. I am not claiming there is something romantic to Pimento cheese, but we have since been married and fondly reminisce about eating our way through the south!
Green Tomato Marmalade
½ cup Sutter Home Chenin Blanc Wine
2 pounds green tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (3 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 medium Kosher Dill pickles
1 teaspoon grated onion
1 clove garlic, grated with rasp (Microplane) grater
3 tablespoons of pimentos, chopped
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup high quality mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 ¼ pounds ground chuck (preferably organic, 20% fat)
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ stick cold butter, divided into six slices
3 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
12 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
6 brioche buns, preferably from a reputable bakery
For the Green Tomato Marmalade, bring all ingredients to a simmer in a medium fire-proof saucepan set over the grill or on the grill’s side burner over medium heat. Simmer for 50-60 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and the liquid dissolves, reducing to about 2 cups. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat, place in small non-reactive (glass) bowl and set in cooler/refrigerator to chill.
For the Pimento Cheese, place cream cheese in a medium non-reactive (glass) bowl. Whisk until fluffy, for about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until blended evenly. Set aside to combine flavors.
For the patties, combine ground chuck and Worcestershire sauce, and lightly mix. Divide into 6 equal portions and form into patties. Make an indentation in the center of the burger, and place a pat of butter into the middle. Finish forming the patty around the meat, completely encasing the butter. When patty is formed, press a small indentation into the center of the meat, to ensure the patty doesn’t become a round shape when heated. Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper around the outside of each patty. Set in the cooler or refrigerator until ready to grill, so patty will keep its shape when cooked.
Heat a fireproof, cast-iron skillet over medium high heat on the grill. When hot, add bacon and cook until browned. Drain on paper towel and set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
To cook the patties, brush the reserved bacon fat on the grill with paper towel or heat resistant brush. Bring the grill to medium high temperature. When grill is hot, cook patties for 3-5 minutes (depending on preference for doneness). Do not touch patties until ready to flip. Flip after 3-5 minutes and cook another 3-5 minutes. Place 1/6 of the pimento cheese mixture on each patty, close the grill and cook for 1 more minute. Remove patties from grill and set aside to rest for about 5-10 minutes.
As the patties are resting, butter the 6 brioche buns and place on the grill for about 1 minute to warm them through
To assemble the burgers, spread the bottom bun with 1/6 of the Green Tomato Marmalade mixture, place 2 strips of bacon, followed by the patty on top (with the Pimento Cheese). Add the top bun and fill your mouth with the south!