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South Carolina Barbecue Pork Burgers
© Tina Rupp

South Carolina Barbecue Pork Burgers

  • TOTAL TIME: 50 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • MAKE-AHEAD

These succulent burgers were inspired by Carolina pulled pork (shredded slow-cooked pork shoulder). Instead of crisp bits of roasted pork skin, the ground pork gets mixed with browned bacon bits for a smoky flavor. In the tradition of South Carolina, the topping is a honey-mustard sauce.

  1. 4 slices smoky bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  4. 1/3 cup honey
  5. 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  6. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  7. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  9. 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  10. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  11. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  13. 1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork, at room temperature
  14. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  15. Vegetable oil, for brushing
  16. 8 thick-cut slices sandwich bread
  17. 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  1. In a small saucepan, cook half of the bacon and the onion in 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over moderate heat until the onion is golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the honey, mustard and vinegar and simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook the remaining bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and let cool. In a bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder and celery seeds with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, gently knead the pork with the crisp bacon and liquid smoke. Loosely form the meat into 4 patties about 3/4 inch thick and set them on a plate lined with plastic wrap. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the burgers, patting to help it adhere. Brush the burgers and both sides of the bread with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.
  4. Light a grill. When the fire is medium hot, brush the grate with oil. Grill the burgers for 12 minutes, turning once, until just cooked through. Move the burgers away from the heat and grill the bread on both sides until toasted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Set the burgers on 4 of the toast slices and top with the cabbage and a generous spoonful of the honey-mustard sauce. Cover with the remaining toasted bread and serve right away, passing the extra sauce separately.
Make Ahead The honey–mustard sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Beer A spicy, fruity beer with a rich malt character, such as Anchor Steam, complements the smoky, spicy flavors here.