Spice-Crusted Pork Burgers with Crispy Brown Sugar Bacon, Maple Apple Chutney, and Smoked Cheddar

Accolades 2009 Finalists
Serves Makes 6 burgers
Pairs well with:


Reach for our Chardonnay when you’re in the mood for a rich and creamy wine that delights with the fruity flair of pear, apple, and peach.


Crispy Brown Sugar Bacon

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 9 slices bacon, cut crosswise in half

Maple Apple Chutney

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced (small) sweet onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced (small) peeled and seeded Granny Smith apple
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A Dark Amber
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Spice-Crusted Patties

  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1/3 cup grated sweet onion
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  • 6 bakery corn-dusted or plain Kaiser rolls, split
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces smoked Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups baby arugula greens



Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the bacon, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne in a small bowl and mix well. Place the bacon in a large heatproof skillet on the grill rack or side burner (if available) over medium heat. Cook on one side, turn, and sprinkle each piece with a scant 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar mixture. When almost completely crispy, turn again, sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture, and cook until the sugar is melted, about 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the sugar on the bottom sides. Remove to an aluminum foil-lined tray to cool.

To make the chutney, melt the butter in a fireproof skillet on the grill rack or side burner (if available). Add the onion and sauté until soft and beginning to caramelize. Add the apple, syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and cinnamon and cook, stirring often, until the apples are soft. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, to make the patties, combine the sugar, chile powder, mustard, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Combine the pork, onion, and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture in a bowl and gently mix together, taking care not to compact the meat. Form into 6 equal patties to fit the rolls. Rub the remaining spice mixture evenly on 1 side of each patty, covering to the edges and pressing gently to adhere the spices to the patties.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, spice side down, and cook until a crust forms, about 4 minutes, taking care not to burn the spice coating. Turn the patties and cook until done to preference, about 5 minutes for medium. During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking, top each patty with an equal portion of the cheese to melt, spread the cut sides of the rolls with the butter, and place on the rack to toast.

To assemble the burgers, place equal portions of the arugula on the roll bottoms. Top each with a patty, 3 bacon pieces, and a portion of the chutney. Add the roll tops and serve.