Sour Apple Pork Burgers

Accolades 2013 Finalists
Serves 6
Pairs well with:

Chenin Blanc

This wine is bursting with crisp, refreshing fruit flavors like apple, pear, and melon, making you want to swing your legs off a dock at sunset.

My inspiration for this burger comes from my favorite dish to eat in the fall: roasted pork with apple compote. It is a meal that celebrates harvest, my favorite time of year. I wanted to turn it into a burger to celebrate my farming roots and the food memories from these times. Raising hogs also lends plenty of ground pork from the butcher!

The wine I chose, Chenin Blanc, is a nice varietal for this dish because it incorporates the flavors of the apple without being overpowering.


1 pound ultra-thick sliced smoked bacon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 quart peanut oil for frying
2 Vidalia or other sweet onions, sliced into very thin rings
1 cup buttermilk
5 cups Kettle Brand Sea Salt Potato Chips
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/3 cup apple butter
1/4 cup Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 pounds ground pork
Reserved bacon drippings (from above)
1/2 cup shredded Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
1/4 cup crushed Kettle Brand Sea Salt Potato Chips
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 ounces white Cheddar cheese, preferably Maytag Dairy Farms
6 Kings Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns, split
1/3 cup apple butter


Heat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the bacon, set a fireproof skillet on the grill rack. Add the bacon and cook until chewy, then transfer to a work surface. Combine the brown sugar, apple butter, wine, and cayenne in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over both sides of the bacon. Return the bacon to the skillet and cook until chewy crisp and the coating is caramelized. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Strain and discard solids from the bacon drippings and pour into a large mixing bowl; reserve for later use.

To make the apples, wipe the skillet with paper towels. Add the apples, sugar, wine, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, and cinnamon. Stir and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

To make the haystacks, place a large, high-sided, cast-iron pan on the grill rack. Pour in the oil and heat to 350 degrees F. Place the onions in the buttermilk and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse the potato chips in a food processor until very fine, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the flour and black pepper until well incorporated. Working in two batches and using tongs, gently lift the onions out of the buttermilk, shaking gently over the bowl to release excess liquid, then drop into the potato chip mixture and toss gently until well coated. Gently lower into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. While warm, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and break into three equal pieces. Repeat with the remaining onions. Set aside until assembling the burgers. Remove the skillet from the grill.

To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.

To make the patties, add the pork to the bowl containing the reserved bacon drippings. Add the apple, wine, and chips and toss with a fork gently to combine. Form 6 equal patties, depressing the centers with your thumb so they don’t puff during grilling. Sprinkle both sides of the patties with the seasoned salt.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, then brush liberally with the glaze. Turn the patties over carefully and brush with more of the glaze. Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer. Place 1 ounce of the cheese on each patty. Cover and cook until done, about 3 minutes longer for medium. Transfer the patties to a plate to rest until assembling the burgers.

Place the buns, cut sides down, on the grill rack to toast lightly. Spread the cut sides of the rolls with the apple butter.

To assemble the burgers, place a cheese-topped patty on each bun bottom. Top each with 2 slices of the bacon, followed by 2 tablespoons of the apples, a mound of the onions, and the bun top. Serve immediately.