The 44th Burger with Sesame Pineapple-Asian Pear Glaze, Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese, Crispy Carrot Tangles, Pepper Bacon, Cilantro-Mint Aioli and Spicy Sunflower Sprouts

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Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.

I am fortunate to be the protector of several of my Norwegian grandmother’s worn and note-filled cookbooks.I was recently reading through one and a hand-written recipe for “44 Hawaiian Carrot Cake” fell out from its carefully tucked location of maybe 30 years. Reading the recipe in my grandma’s impeccable handwriting was a revelation, as the cake contained water chestnuts, coconut and pineapple, all of which could not have been easy ingredients to find in 1960’s Milwaukee. Yet, after repeated readings, the mystery deepened as to why she titled it beginning with “44”. Hawaii wasn’t a state yet in 1944, she does live near the 44th parallel? I finally just decided that, since she was a staunch Democrat, she was clairvoyant and named the recipe in honor of our 44th President’s home state. This burger is a tribute to the inspiring wonders and mysteries of old cookbooks, to grandmothers, to our 50th state and to our country. Enjoy!


Cilantro-Mint Aioli
1 1/4 cups high-quality or homemade mayonnaise
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese
1 cup grated, unsweetened coconut
1 cup whipped cream cheese
Pepper Bacon
12 slices thick-cut pepper coated bacon
Sesame Pineapple-Asian Pear Glaze
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
2 Asian pears, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup good-quality soy sauce
Crispy Carrot Tangles
2 1/4 cups canola oil, divided
2 cups shredded carrots
2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
Burger Patties
2 pounds freshly-ground chuck
1 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
Spicy Sunflower Sprouts
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
1 1/2 cups packed sunflower sprouts (available at greenmarkets and farmer’s markets)
3/4 cup crisped rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
6 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make the cilantro-mint aioli, add the mayonnaise, mint and cilantro to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard processing blade and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill to let the flavors blend until ready to assemble the burgers.
To make your toasted coconut cream cheese, place a large, deep, heavy-bottomed, grill-safe skillet atop your grill rack. When the pan has heated, add the coconut and cook until toasted brown and crunchy, frequently stirring the coconut. Transfer the toasted coconut to a small bowl, add the whipped cream cheese, stir to combine, cover and chill.
Return the skillet to the grill rack and cook your pepper bacon until crispy. Transfer the pepper bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Drain the bacon fat and return the skillet to the grill rack.
To make the sesame pineapple-Asian pear glaze, add the Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the skillet. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the white sesame seeds and toast until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the pineapple, Asian pears, ginger, sesame oil, honey and soy sauce to the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pineapple and Asian pears have begun to lose their shape and the mixture is thick and bubbly. Carefully transfer the hot glaze to a blender and process until smooth. Pour the glaze into a medium bowl and set aside.
Rinse and dry the skillet and return it to your grill rack. To make the crispy carrot tangles, add 2 cups canola oil (reserving the remaining 1/4 cup for use later in the recipe) to the skillet and heat until the oil is shimmering, about 8 to 10 minutes. Working in 1/2-cup batches, add the shredded carrots to the oil and cook until golden and crispy, about 45 to 60 seconds per batch. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the crispy carrots to a paper towel-lined plate and, when all carrots have been fried, toss them with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (reserving the remaining 2 teaspoons Kosher salt for use later in the recipe).
To prepare the burger patties, add the ground chuck and water chestnuts to a bowl and gently combine with your hands. Form the mixture into 6 equally-sized patties and sprinkle both sides of each patty evenly with the reserved 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and the freshly-ground black pepper. Generously oil your grill rack with the reserved canola oil and place the patties on the rack. Grill the first side without moving the patties for approximately 4 minutes, or until juice from the patties will begin to emerge from the top. At this stage, baste each burger liberally with the sesame pineapple-Asian pear glaze. Flip the patties, then liberally douse each patty again with the glaze and top each patty with an equal dollop of the toasted coconut cream cheese. Lower the grill lid or cover and cook until the cheese has slightly melted and until your desired doneness. Transfer the burgers to a platter to rest for 2 minutes while preparing the spicy sunflower sprouts.
To make the spicy sunflower sprouts, whisk together the rice wine vinegar and Sriracha in a medium bowl. Add the sunflower sprouts and crisped rice cereal and toss to coat in the dressing.
Place the King’s Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls, split side down, upon the grill rack and lightly toast, about 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the rolls from the grill and set them upon your working surface, grill side up.
To assemble, spread the split sides of each top and bottom roll evenly with the cilantro-mint aioli. Place a mound of the spicy sunflower sprouts atop the aioli on each bottom bun, followed by the patties. Top each patty with 2 slices bacon, pressing into the toasted coconut cream cheese, followed by a generous mound of the crispy carrot tangles. Add the roll tops, cut the burgers in half with a serrated knife, if desired, serve and enjoy!
Makes 6 burgers.