If you like a smokey burger this one is right up your alley. I have made them twice, and both times we loved them. Since Jack Daniels is our drink of choice, we knew we would like the bourbon sauce, and all the smokiness from the sauce and the smoked cheddar really pushed them over the top. Actually I would use the smoked cheddar even when I don’t have the sauce, and the sauce even when I don’t have the cheddar. They are both yummy enough to stand alone, but together, all I can say is Wow (and so did everyone who has eaten them)!
SAUCE:2 t. canola oil
2 slices bacon, cut into ½” strips
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ c. bourbon (Of course I used Jack)
1 c. ketchup
¼ c. water
3 TB cider vinegar
3 TB unsulfured molasses
2 TB dark steak sauce (I used A-1)
1 TB spicy brown mustard
1 t. liquid smoke
½ t. hot pepper sauce (I used Pete’s)
BURGER:8 slices bacon
1-1/2 lbs. ground chuck (80%lean)
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. smoked cheddar cheese, grated
4 leaves lettuce (I used Romaine)
8 slices ripe tomato
4 hamburger buns
IF you have a smoker box, soak hickory chips in water for at least 30 minutes. If not, you will still be happy with your burger.
In a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat on the stove, warm the oil. Add the bacon strips and fry until browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan to drain on paper towels; leave the drippings in the pan.
Add the onion to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until soft and golden brown 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bourbon, increase the heat to medium-high and boil to reduce slightly, about 1 minute. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture thickens and is reduced to about 2 cups, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the fried and cooled bacon. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat on the stove, fry the 8 bacon slices until browned and crisp, 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Mix the ground chuck with salt and pepper, then gently form four patties of equal size each about ¾” thick. With your thumb make a shallow indentation about 1” wide in the center of the patties to prevent them from forming a dome as they cook. Refrigerate the patties until ready to grill.
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (about 400 degrees).
IF you are using a smoker box, drain and add the wood chips to the smoker box and close the lid until smoke appears. If you aren’t using a smoker box of course skip this step. Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat with the lid closed until cooked to medium doneness (160 degrees), 8-10 minutes, turning once. During the last minute of grilling time, place 1/4th of the cheese on each patty to melt, and toast the buns, cut side down, over direct heat.
Build each burger on a bun with lettuce, tomato slices, a patty, 2 bacon slices and sauce. Serve warm.