The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Build a Better Burger - No. 2

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Since I last wrote about my exploration of burgers 2 weeks ago, many varieties of burgers have come off my grill. The third burger I made is close to the top of my list. It is the CUBANA PORK BURGER form my new Build a Better Burger cookbook. It is a tasty blend of ground pork and ground smoked ham served with a tasty relish and doctored mustard. This burger surprised me in how long it actually took to make. Many of the burgers in the book are not simple, they are more like what you would get in a higher priced specialty restaurant. If you use as many fresh ingredients as you can, the prep can consume 1-2 hours for many of these. That seems crazy for a burger, but somehow these are more than just burgers - trust me.

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The doctored mustard was a mustard mayo blend

I knew this burger was going to take longer than the CUBAN BEEF BURGER described in my BUILD A BETTER BURGER -NO. 1. blog entry. But I had a work day where I was off site near my house and got home nearly an hour early. Plenty of time to make this burger and eat around 8:00 right? Wrong!! .

Like many of the burgers in the book this one had a complimentary condiment. This one was a blend of mustard and mayonnaise. With that made and stored in the refrigerator it was time to make the spicy relish.

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The spicy relish is time consuming to make but the flavors are wonderful. Plus you can make it the night before

The relish was a blend of black beans, lime juice,and chopped onion, sweet pickles, dill pickles, cilantro, chives, and minced garlic. This took quite a while to prepare nearly 45 minute from start to finish. The second time I made these burgers I made the relish the night before to cut down the prep time. I did not notice any degradation in flavor and I appreciated not eating at 9:00 PM. I will admit that making the recipes in this burger cookbook have improved my chopping skills quite a bit.

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The smoked ham was cubed & ground in the food processor (l) The meat gets seasoned with garlic, black beans, chile powder, cumin, Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper (r)


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The smoked ham is ground medium coarse (l) & black beans are added & this blend is finely ground (r)

The patties were a mix of ground pork and smoked ham. The smoked ham was ground in a food processor. After the meat was ground to a medium coarseness a can of black beans were added and this was ground fine. The smoked ham & black bean mix was added to the ground pork and this was seasoned with garlic, chile powder, cumin, salt & fresh ground black pepper. The resulting mix was formed into patties. After this I melted some butter and brushed it on to the 4 buns. This prep took far longer than I expected. This is a pattern for all of the burgers in the book: They are more than just a hamburger, but with that comes much longer prep times. This one finished out at around 2 hours from start to eating.

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The ingredients are ready to mix (l) & formed into patties (r)


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Two hours and it is finally time to grill (l) The patties smelled incredible cooking (r)

It is a good thing I have a good grill light because when I try to do these burgers after work, I don’t get outside until after the sun is down. The burgers took about 5 minutes per side to cook to medium. While they were cooking I toasted the buns. After the patties are flipped they receive some Monterey Jack cheese about 2 minutes before finishing up. These burgers required some assembly before eating. The relish was spread on the bun bottoms, followed by a piece of lettuce. The patties come next. The patties are topped with more relish and the bun tops receive the mustard mayo spread.


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Building a Better Burger: Toasted buns, spicy relish, lettuce (l) Pork patties, Monterey Jack cheese (r)


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Mustard-mayo spread on the top bun (l) The finished burgers (r)

These burgers were a smorgasbord of flavors. The meat was very tasty and the other ingredients create a complex blends of flavors. Each bite is a little different than the last. The long prep time is well worth the effort. I had half of the mustard mayo spread left and I saved this for a second round of these burgers I made a few days later. The second time around I prepped the relish the night before. Having the leftover mustard mayo spread and doing the relish the night before cut the time in half on the night of the cook. The taste seemed just as good with the refrigerated version of the relish versus the fresh. So from now on if I am making this during the week, I will do the relish ahead of time. And I do plan to do these burgers often. Of the 8 burgers I’ve done from the Build a Better Burger cookbook, these are my first or second choice for Number One.

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The cookbook version (top) & my version (bottom)


  CUBAN BURGER Burger Picture Entry
  CUBANA PORK BURGER Burger Picture Entry


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