BLT Burgers with Chef Alli’s Kickin’ Ketchup

As seen on WIBW 13 News This Morning, July 28, 2011 with Dave and Amanda. 

BLT Burgers with Chef Alli’s Kickin’ Ketchup
Recipe from Fine Cooking Picnics and Cookouts, Sept. 2011, adapted by Chef Alli, Serves 8

2 lbs. ground chuck
2 lbs. ground sirloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices sharp Cheddar
8 Hy-Vee Bakery Onion Buns
8 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, cut in half (2 halves per burger)
8 leaves red leaf lettuce
2 large homegrown tomatoes
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced

Kickin’ Ketchup
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. red wine
1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. ancho chile powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of each: cinnamon, cloves, black pepper
½ cup water

For burgers, place ground beef in a large mixing bowl; gently combine. Shape beef mixture into 8 patties that are about 1 inch thick. Heat an oiled grill or grill pan to high heat; place burgers on grill (you should hear them sizzle) and season with salt and pepper. Grill burgers until nice grill marks appear, reducing heat to medium high, and continuing to cook to desired doneness, approx. 8-10 minutes total for medium-rare. Top each burger with a slice of Cheddar during the last minutes of cooking time so cheese melts slightly. Transfer burgers to a platter and keep warm. Toast buns on grill or grill pan, cut side down. Dress burgers with toasted buns, condiments and Kickin’ Ketchup, then chow down.

For Kickin’ Ketchup, heat oil over medium heat in a medium saute pan; add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, approx. 15-20 minutes. Add vinegar and wine; deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of saucepan into onion mixture. Stir in brown sugar, ketchup, spices and water; simmer for 8-10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Tips for GOOD burgers:

1. Mix ground beef gently and briefly to avoid overworking the meat. Wet hands help to form the burgers quicker, too.

2. Salt burgers just as you begin to cook them on the grill. This keeps the salt from drawing out all the juice from the beef and gives you a nice crust.

3. Be sure your grill is very preheated and nicely oiled before a burger ever lands there – this will give you a nice sear on the outside of your burger.

4. Don’t press on burgers with spatula while cooking; those juices are precious – don’t waste them!

Now You’re Cookin’,

Chef Alli

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