From the SCCC Kitchen: Barbecue burgers add unique flavor to picnics

SCCC technical specialist Chris Tanner is not an expert on song lyrics, but he knows plenty about Ca

“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Today, technical specialist (and certified executive chef) Christopher Tanner continues his series of summer recipes with Carolina barbecue hamburgers.

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina — with a hamburger.

Chris Tanner is not an expert on song lyrics, but he knows plenty about Carolina-style barbecue. He thinks a hamburger influenced by southern grillers is a great change from the ground beef models topped with cheese and tomato often found in the Northeast.

Tanner combines ground chuck — he prefers beef with a higher fat content that provides more flavor — with ground pork.

“Pork adds a little more flavor,” he said. “We’re talking about Carolina barbecue, and Carolina barbecue is pork. And we have a nice spice mix that’s in there. It’s a nice flavor combination.”

Flavors are in the meat, and in the sauce, brushed onto the burgers as they cook. “Taking the barbecue sauce and basting it just adds even more flavor,” Tanner said.

The chef said people should always make their burgers flat, and not place large mounds of meat on the grill. Some home char-broilers flatten burgers with their metal spatulas over the fire, but Tanner said this will release juices and maybe cause the hamburgers to break up. Flat hamburger patties, about 1⁄2-inch to 3⁄4-inches thick, will ensure even cooking.

Cole slaw tops the burger.

“The cole slaw adds a nice crunch, and cole slaw is very popular down south,” Tanner said. “And it gives a nice color to it. For me, color just for the sake of color — I hate that. I like to add color that adds flavor at the same time. This definitely packs a lot of punch. Instead of just being cole slaw, it’s red cabbage I’m using for it.”

And because the slaw is tossed with a vinegar-based dressing, Tanner said it will last a little longer at outdoor picnics. Mayonnaise-based dressings would quickly lose their appeal in warm weather.

Tanner said people can consider the southern way when they put finishing touches on their hamburgers. That means no ketchup.

“Make the Carolina barbecue sauce, and just put a little more on the burger at the end,” he said.

Carolina Barbecue


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1⁄3 cup honey

1⁄3 cup Dijon mustard

1⁄4 cup cider vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground chuck

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄4 teaspoon celery seeds

Cooking oil

8 thick-cut slices thick bread

1 cup Carolina vinegar slaw (recipe follows)

For slaw:

1 large head of red cabbage, finely shredded

1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, grated

2 pickled jalapeno peppers (with seeds), minced

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2⁄3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 cup cider vinegar

Combine slaw vegetable ingredients — cabbage, peppers, onions and carrots — in a large serving bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour over vegetables and toss well, chill completely.

For hamburgers:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and combine the honey, mustard and vinegar and simmer about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, combine the ground pork, ground chuck, paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder and celery seeds with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Form the meat into 4 patties about 1⁄2-inch to 3⁄4-inches thick.

Light a grill. When the fire is medium hot, brush the grate with oil. Grill the burgers for five to seven minutes per side, turning once, until just cooked through, brushing occasionally with the mustard vinegar sauce. Move the burgers away from the heat and grill the bread on both sides until toasted, about 2 minutes.

Set the burgers on four of the toast slices and top with cole slaw and a generous spoonful of the honey-mustard sauce. Cover with the remaining toasted bread and serve.

Serves 4.

Categories: Life and Arts

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