My Hometown Burger – Pineapple Bleu Cheeseburger with “Terry” Aki Glaze
Virginia Commonwealth University is located in Richmond, Virginia, what I consider to be my home town. On the edge of the campus, at the corner of Grace and Harrison Streets, was a college hangout called The Village Inn. It was a long narrow place with a deli case at the end of a counter on one side and cramped little booths on the other. The place was a packed with students between classes during the day and those seeking to quench their thirst in the evening. The most ordered item on the menu was the Pineapple Cheeseburger. So popular was this unlikely combination that it began to appear on the menus of many of the pubs and restaurants that peppered the area in and around the college. That was forty odd years ago and the “Village” has moved to swankier quarters across the street. Last time I was there, the Pineapple Cheeseburger was still on the menu.
I live in Florida now where, one would think, something so tropical sounding would be on the menu at every tiki hut. Alas it is not so. I’ve searched high and low, begged restaurants to give it a shot. “You could be the first” I say, “You’d be famous.” Thus far they have all declined and I have been left to create my own version which has evolved to suit my taste. Bleu Cheese has replaced American and the sweet saltiness of the “Terry” Aki glaze, my own secret recipe, is a great complement to the pineapple.
3/4 Cup Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
6 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
3 Pounds 80% Lean Ground Beef
1-1/2 Tablespoons Coarse Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
6 â€“ 3/8 Inch Slices Fresh Pineapple, Pealed and Cored;
or 12 Slices Canned Pineapple in Syrup, Drained
6 Sesame Seed Hamburger Rolls
1/2 Cup Heinz’s Spicy Brown Mustard
12 Thin Slices Red Onion
12 Ounces Treasure Cave Bleu Cheese Cut in 1/4″ Slabs
Preheat gas grill to medium high
“Terry” Aki Glaze
In an oven proof sauce pan or metal bowl combine Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, and sugar. Stir over heated grill to dissolve sugar and reduce by 1/3. Chill remaining one cup to room temperature.
Separate ground beef into six approximately equal portions and shape into patties using “Tips for Better Burgers” (below). Season each side with 1/4 tsp. pepper and a pinch of salt (do not over salt as the “Terry” Aki is very salty). Spoon 2 tsps. “Terry” Aki glaze on top of each patty and refrigerate covered for ten to fifteen minutes.
Turn gill to high for five minutes. Place patties on grill, glazed side down, and spoon 2 tsps. glaze on top. Grill two to three minutes or until seared and slightly charred. Turn burgers to sear and char other side and spoon on 2 tsps. more glaze. Lower grill to medium heat, cook five more minutes. Meanwhile, place pineapple slices around outer edges of grill, turn after one to two minutes or when surface begins to caramelize. Remove pineapple when remaining surface is caramelized, one to two minutes. Place buns on grill and lightly toast both sides. Turn burgers, glaze again with 2 tsps. of glaze and grill another five minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160o, and remove from grill.
Spread 2 tsps. Heinz’s Spicy Brown Mustard inside both halves of each roll. Lay two onion slices on bottom half of roll. Place burger on onion, top with two ounces of Treasure Cave bleu cheese, and one slice of fresh pineapple, or two overlapping slices if using canned. Plate with top half of roll cocked to side for presentation.
Tips for Better Burgers â€“ To avoid burgers that are dry, tough, and unevenly cooked:
– Use ground beef that is no more than 80% lean. Leaner ground beef is great for taco filling and pan frying burgers, but for the grill, not so great. Most of the extra fat drips down on the charcoal or ceramic briquettes making a smoke that adds to the flavor of the burger (thatâ€™s why we grill), and the rest keeps the burger moist.
– Handle the ground beef as little as possible. Packing the meat into a ball and pressing out nice neat patties will make them tough and chewy after cooking. Instead; judge by eye the amount of meat necessary to make the size of burger you want and use you fingers to roughly shape the patty. Place on a flat surface on wax paper, parchment, or even a paper plate. Then lightly use you fingers to finish shaping the burger, cupping your hand around the edges to help make it round. It should be just tight enough to hold together on the grill.
– Make thick burgers a little thinner in the middle. Your big burger will be a lot thicker in the middle after a while on the grill from shrinkage. This is why thick burgers are often not quite done in the middle while fully cooked on the edge. Plus being thinner in the middle creates a little well to hold whatever you baste your burger with.