Smokehouse Cheeseburger with BBQ Bacon Jam
For the Burgers:
- 2 pounds of ground beef blend brisket, short rib, chuck 80/20
- 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
- Potato buns for sliders
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Zest of half a lemon
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
For the BBQ bacon jam:
- ¾ pound uncooked bacon
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- Half a teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons molasses
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
For the Onion Rings:
- 2 yellow or sweet onions cut in ½ thick rings
- 1.5 cups buttermilk
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- Veggie oil
To make the bacon jam, cook the bacon in a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until crispy. Set aside and reserve bacon fat. Pre-heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add the diced onions and thyme along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple cracks of pepper. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and next 3 ingredients and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the bourbon, maple syrup, and brown sugar to the pan and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes or until most of the bourbon has evaporated. Add the apple cider vinegar and molasses to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Finely chop the cooked bacon and add it to the pan. Check for seasoning, the jam should be sweet, spicy, salty, and sour. Add more brown sugar, vinegar, or salt if needed. Cook for another 5 minutes until the bacon softens up and the mixture looks really jammy. Take off heat and set aside.
Pre-heat veggie oil to oil to 350 degrees F.
Place the buttermilk in a shallow bowl and season with½ teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of pepper. Place the flour in a bowl with the parsley and ½ teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of pepper, mix to combine. Make sure you separate the onion rings and place a few in the flour, thoroughly coat and shake off the excess flour. Place rings in the buttermilk and shake off the excess. Return to the flour once more, thoroughly coat and shake off the excess, move rings to a plate or wire rack. Let the rings rest for 5-10 minutes so the crust can set up. Fry the onion rings until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. As soon as the rings come out of the fryer sprinkle them with a little salt.
To make the burgers, form 3.5 ounces of ground beef blend into a patty. Repeat and keep slider patties cold in the fridge until ready to cook. Pre-heat a grill or cast iron pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes with a small shot of veggie oil if using a pan. Season one side of the patties with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and place in the pan or grill. Use your thumb to make a dimple in the center of the patties so that stay flat while cooking. Season the top sides with another generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5-6 minutes and flip. Cook another 5-6 minutes but place the grated cheese on the burgers for the last 3 minutes of the cooking process and close the lid of the grill or put 2 ice cubes in the cast iron pan and put a lid on it so the cheese can melt evenly. Remove from heat and keep warm under a tin foil tented plate and toast your buns.
Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon zest, juice, chopped parsley, and a small pinch of salt and pepper.
To assemble the slider, schmear some of the herbed mayo on the bottom half of the bun. Top it with the slider patty and spoon on a heaping tablespoon of BBQ bacon jam on top. Place 3 fried pickles on top and then the top half the bun. Enjoy!
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