Burger Week: Barbecue Pork Burgers

EDITOR’S NOTE: Burger Week concludes Friday with beef. Oh, glorious beef.

Ground pork rarely stands alone and with good reason. It’s not the most flavorful use of the meat. Typically, it joins beef and veal in a meatloaf or meatball mix. It might also make an appearance in a ragout or chili as a supplemental meat to beef.

The general blandness of ground pork is surprising considering its fat content. Hailing the pig’s shoulder butt, ground pork averages a leanness of about 70 percent. In comparison, most of the beef you buy at the supermarket is 80 to 90 percent lean. If you follow the belief that fat equals flavor, you might expect these to be rich, tasty burgers.

You would be wrong. For the same reason you smoke pork shoulders or marinate pork tenderloins, you must season ground pork liberally because pork has no distinct flavor. It is, however, quite juicy.

I’ve seen two variations of the pork burger. The first is the one I prepared, the barbecue pork burger. The other is a Buffalo pork burger, which substitutes barbecue sauce for Frank’s Red Hot. Either way, you have a winner.

Barbecue Pork Burger
By Jared Paventi

  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • 3 tbsp. Memphis-style barbecue sauce (Memphis is cayenne- and tomato-based. Molasses and brown sugar sauces will burn and get crusty. Carolina sauce is garbage. Stick to the tomato-based.)
  • 1 tbsp. dry rub or creole seasoning

Add the pork and dry rub to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix with your hands. Add the barbecue sauce and combine well. You want the meat to be wet, but not dripping sauce.

Preheat your grill. Reduce half of your burners to medium-high and the others to medium-low. Set the burgers on the medium-low side and cook eight minutes. Turn the burgers and cook an additional four minutes. Your burgers should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Serve hot with extra barbecue sauce.

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