Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Better Burger: Spanish-Inspired Pork Burger

                 Neighbors were coming for a casual supper recently, and I wanted to grill.  Everyone likes hamburgers but I wanted something a little different.  I had just done a well-loved Spanish-style marinated pork tenderloin for the rehearsal dinner of a friend’s son and wondered why I couldn’t put the same spices into a pork burger.
                I used manchego, a Spanish sheep-milk cheese, to top the burgers. It has a brown wax coating that I trimmed off so the cheese could be thinly sliced.  It’s pretty widely available but Swiss cheese would make a good substitute.
                The sauce I serve with the pork tenderloin, a sherry aioli, is easy to make and still delicious if you prefer to omit the sherry.  I usually use an oloroso sherry because I like the full flavor and sweetness it lends. .  But any kind of sherry will work, except for the oversalted cooking sherry available in grocery stores.
                Spanish smoked paprika is a wonderful spice, available in most supermarkets and at Penzeys. I prefer the sweet (not hot) variety, but if you like more spice, the hot one would also be good.
                I added a slice of red bell pepper and a crisp lettuce leaf to each burger, put it on an onion roll and the guests pronounced it perfectly delicious.
                  Typically I roast the pork tenderloin on a bed of potatoes, so oven-roasted potatoes were the side dish the first time I made these. I thinned a spoonful of the spice mixture with additional olive oil and tossed them in it before roasting. The burger was so tasty that I made them again and this time I spread butter mixed with lime zest on fresh corn-on-the-cob, wrapped them in foil, and roasted them on the grill as the burgers cooked. That made quite a lovely companion dish as well.


½ cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. sherry wine
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. Spanish sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 3/4 lbs. ground pork
To finish:
6 onion rolls (or other burger buns)
6 crisp lettuce leaves
About 5 oz. manchego cheese, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers

                Mix all sauce ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
                Drop the garlic, one clove at a time, into a food processor with the motor running. When chopped, stop the motor, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. Scrape down the sides a couple of times. It will make a grainy paste. Add the paste to the pork, mix well and form four burgers. Chill until ready to cook.
                Slice the top off the pepper and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Cut crosswise into ¼” thick rings.
                At dinner time, cook the burgers over medium-hot coals until just done through, about five minutes on the first side, and two to three minutes on the second.   Internal temperature should be around 150-degrees.
                Put the lettuce on the roll bottom, top with the burger, then the cheese and pepper ring. Drizzle with the sauce and enjoy!  Serves six.
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