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FreshTartSteph Recipe: Pork Burgers


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Burger maniacs (including myself), I have a proposition for you (us)...pork burgers! Why do we all not eat pork burgers? I'm not suggesting that beef burgers are anything but delectable, but I have been pondering—given the borderline gastronomic insanity over bacon, pork belly, and charcuterie—why the heck isn't a fabulously juicy, porky burger on every menu in this town?

I took my question to Karen Weiss of Little Foot Farm, host of this summer's Outstanding in the Field farm dinner. Weiss and her partner Sally Doherty raise heritage breed hogs on their picture-perfect farm for chefs like Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant and Mike Phillips of Three Sons Meat Co., but they also sell their highly-prized pork to the public, including ground Gloucester Old Spot (GOS) pork.

Weiss confessed that she's on a mission to convince Minnesotans that pork burgers deserve a spot on everyone's grill, particularly best-quality pork like she and Doherty raise, the kind that actually tastes like pork.

Pork!

After grilling a few batches myself, I can not agree more. Not that I thought I wouldn't agree—it's no secret that I'm a big, BIG pork fan—but holy cow my friends, the first batch of burgers I pulled off the grill were not savored, they were inhaled. I seasoned them with nothing more than salt and pepper so we could enjoy the clean, rich, pure pork flavor that Little Foot's tender loving care delivers. In a buttered, toasted bun, of course. Gah.

For round two of pork play, I added cheddar cheese and tomato jam. Kablam. Future rounds might go breakfast-y with a fried egg and a crumble of bacon to gild the lily. Or Asian-style with scallions, ginger, and a splash of soy sauce. Or bratwurst-esque with caraway cheese and sauerkraut on a pretzel roll. Or even quicky barbecue, with a slathering of sauce topped with slaw before devouring. You get the picture—keep it simple, or go with classic-for-a-reason pork accompaniments. All paths lead to porktastic. Go!

A few tips for perfect, juicy burgers:
1. Choose best-quality meat with a good amount of fat in it.
2. Place ground meat in a bowl and gently work in salt and pepper and any other seasonings you're using. You want seasoning throughout the burger, not just on the surface, but you don't want to compress the grind, which makes burgers tough.
3. With that in mind, gently form the ground meat into patties. You pack, you puck. I'm not a thick burger purist—I was raised on thin diner-style burgers and I still love them—but thicker burgers do allow for the awesomeness of a nicely charred exterior with just-cooked interior.
4. With that in mind, cook burgers over medium-high heat so you can achieve that char in just a few minutes per side. Burgers cooked over low heat are grey and sad. Boo.

To purchase Little Foot Farm pork, call 612-207-9771 or email customerservice@littlefootfarm.com.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

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