Screen Porch Burgers
My parents have retired to a small farm in Maine, in the foothills of the White Mountains. Summers are short but hot, perfect for growing the armloads of sweet, crisp summer vegetables that my family and I devour when we visit. Happiness, for me, is sitting on the huge screen porch, listening to the tree peepers chirp, sipping a cool glass of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc, and noshing on burgers filled with the farm’s bounty: sweet corn, basil, scallions, heirloom tomatoes, and Mom’s bread and butter pickles from just-picked cukes.
Sweet Corn-Basil Pimento Cheese:
- 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sweet corn kernels, from 3 ears corn
- ½ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
- ½ cup mayonnaise
Bread and Butter Frickles:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 12 bread and butter sandwich-cut pickles
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 pounds ground chuck
- ½ cup finely sliced scallions
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 King’s Hawaiian Sandwich Rolls
- 6 1/4-inch slices heirloom tomato
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 leaves red-leaf lettuce
- To make the Sweet Corn-Basil Pimento Cheese, shred the cheddar on a box grater. Stir together shredded cheese, sweet corn, sliced basil leaves and mayonnaise in a medium bowl, and set aside until ready to serve.
- To make the Bread and Butter Frickles, preheat all burners on a gas grill to high. Place a large, cast-iron skillet on the grates, and heat for at least 5 minutes. Carefully add the oil to the hot pan, and heat to 350 degrees.
- While the pan preheats, lay out the pickle slices in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Blot with a second kitchen towel. Arrange three small bowls into a breading station: place the flour in the first, beat the eggs and milk in the second, and mix the cornmeal and panko in the third. Season contents of each bowl with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and mix to combine. Bread the dried-off pickle slices by turning in the flour, then dipping in the egg mixture, and finally coating with the panko-cornmeal mixture. Fry the breaded pickles in batches, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 90 seconds per side. Drain on a rack set over a paper-towel-lined sheet pan. Carefully remove skillet from the grill grates, and reduce heat to medium-high.
- To make the burger patties, gently combine chuck, scallions, salt and pepper. Divide into 6 portions, and form each into a ¾-inch thick patty roughly the diameter of the King’s Sandwich Rolls. Grill the burgers on the preheated grill, turning once, until medium rare, about 3 minutes per side. After turning the burgers, arrange the sandwich rolls, cut sides down, around the edges of the grill to toast.
- To assemble the burgers, place one burger patty on each of the toasted sandwich roll bottoms. Top with 2 criss-crossed frickles, a slice of heirloom tomato, and a crisp leaf of lettuce. Spread the top halves of the sandwich rolls with a scant quarter cup of the sweet corn-basil pimento cheese, and close the burgers. Enjoy on the screen porch, listening to the soothing sounds of a summer evening, accompanied by a crisp, cold glass of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc.