20 May 2012

Tennessee Whiskey Burgers with Drunken Mushrooms

One of my favorite things about summer is cooking outside.  You can enjoy the sunshine and warm weather outdoors while cooking up some fresh flavor.  Just open a beer, sit back and enjoy the sun.  Plus, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to not turn on the oven in our teeny tiny apartment.  It feels like you're turning the whole house to 450 degrees on a hot day, and then the hubs, pup and I are all miserable for the rest of the night.  So barbecue meal this is!

Ask any of our friends and they would tell you that we are wine drinkers.  We spend so much time reading, talking about and tasting wine that most people would be bored to tears to spend an afternoon with us.  However, our palates need a break from the complexities of grapes from time to time, and on those occasions our favorite drink is whiskey.  Smokey, complex and smooth, this is our liquor of choice and we usually have a bit on hand.  Plus, on a hot day, a cold whiskey is truly great to sip.

Over St. Patrick's Day weekend, I was again drawn into the vortex that is my local market cheese counter.  They had this delicious Irish whiskey cheddar, nutty and tangy, which I was suckered into buying immediately.  The flavor profile demanded a glass of whiskey, but also begged to be thrown on a burger.  So we broke St. Patty's tradition and went with burgers instead of corned beef on the day itself.  

I will stand by that decision until the day I die.  

This burger is absolutely fantastic.  And you do not have to be a whiskey drinker to enjoy.  The complexity and flavor of whiskey brings an entirely new dimension and profile to the beef.  Caramelized onions and mushrooms with garlic, pepper and more whiskey (of course!) pair perfectly, and let us not forget the piece de resistance, peppered bacon.  The salty, peppery crunch it provides finishes this perfectly. 

And do not forget about those delicious mushrooms and onions on top.  The hubs likes to cook up a few extra to throw on top of spinach for an easy side salad.  Oh baby, I want another one of these immediately, if not sooner.  Perhaps I'll eat the third patty before the hubs remembers there is extra......

Tennessee Whiskey Burgers with Drunken Mushrooms (3 burgers)
  • 2 tbs whiskey
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 2 tbs finely minced onion
  • 3 pieces peppered bacon, cooked
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 3/4 c mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 c onions, sliced
  • 2 tbs additional whiskey
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 thick slices whiskey cheddar
  • 3 sandwich thins or buns
  • spinach (if desired)
Preheat grill to medium high.  

First, make your whiskey sauce.  Combine 2 tablespoons whiskey, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, chili powder and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk well until completely combined.  Voila, delicious whiskey sauce!

Place beef and minced onion in a medium bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the prepared whiskey sauce.  Form into 3 patties with slight divots in the center.  Crack fresh pepper over the burgers and press lightly.  Set aside.

Combine mushrooms, onions, 2 tablespoons whiskey and minced garlic in a small bowl.  Toss together and transfer to a large piece of foil.  Fold over the sides and roll the ends to create a foil packet.   Place directly on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender.  

At this time, start cooking your bacon.  Just throw a pan on the grill and cook, flipping frequently, until crispy.

Brush the burgers with the remaining whiskey sauce and place on the grill over direct heat.  Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, brushing with more sauce while they cook.  Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  During the final 2 minutes of cooking time, top the burgers with the whiskey cheddar and place the buns over indirect heat.  Remove all toppings when burgers are finished.

To assemble burgers, place a few spinach leaves on the bottom bun as a barrier between the juicy burger and bread.  Place burger directly on spinach and top with cooked bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms.  Enjoy with a cold beer or (better yet!) your favorite whiskey drink.

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