Recipe: Bacon Burger Sliders with Bacon Mayonnaise

It’s once again prime time to fire up the grill and make your neighbors jealous of the delicious smells coming from what’s sizzling in your backyard. And, of course, bacon makes everything even better! In this recipe by meat expert Bruce Aidells (which appeared in Real Food), bacon is mixed in the meat and flavors the mayo topping.

Bruce likes his burgers medium-rare made with the freshest meat he can get, so grinds his own (see note below for tips). His preferred cut is short rib meat. Buy boneless short ribs if possible, he suggests, or just buy regular short ribs and cut the meat away from the bones. If you make the burgers with store-bought ground beef, cook them well-done.

For even more inspiration for the “sizzle” season, check out Grill Fest taking place this weekend in downtown Minneapolis at The Depot. Bon appétit!

Bacon Burger Sliders with Bacon Mayonnaise

Makes 8 sliders

1¾ lb. ground beef, 80% lean
     (or 2 lb. boneless short ribs or 2½ lb. bone-in short ribs)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
5 strips thick-cut bacon

Bacon Mayonnaise

1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. reserved melted bacon fat
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp.  sweet pickle relish (optional)
1 strip cooked thick-cut bacon, finely chopped

8 soft rolls (such as Parker House) or mini buns
8 slices vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
8 small leaves lettuce

If grinding your own hamburger, trim external fat from short ribs and grind following instructions (shown below). If using store-bought ground beef, don’t cook burgers less than well-done (160°F internal temperature).

In a bowl, use a fork to lightly toss beef with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce until ingredients are well mixed, but don’t overwork the mixture. Form into 8 patties about ¾-inch to 1-inch thick. Press your thumb in the center of each to create a depression.

Fry bacon over medium heat until just becoming crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Finely chop 1 strip and set aside for Bacon Mayonnaise. Cut remaining strips in half and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat for Bacon Mayonnaise.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil grill and place patties over heat. Grill 4 to 5 minutes. If grill begins to flame, move burgers to a less heat-intense section of the grill (or reduce heat if using a gas grill). Flip burgers and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. This should yield burgers that are medium doneness with a faintly pink center. For more well-done, cook an additional minute; for less done (medium-rare), decrease cooking time to 3 to 4 minutes per side.

To make Bacon Mayonnaise, whisk together mayonnaise, melted bacon fat, Worcestershire sauce, optional sweet pickle relish, and reserved chopped bacon. Set aside.

While burgers are cooking, toast rolls. Spread a generous amount of Bacon Mayonnaise on each roll half and place tomato, lettuce, and 1 half-slice bacon on bottom half of roll. When burgers are done, assemble sandwiches and serve at once.

Cook’s note: For regular-size burgers, buy sesame buns and make 4 patties about ¾ inch thick. Proceed as you would for the sliders but fry 9 slices of bacon (2 whole slices for each burger plus 1 for the Bacon Mayonnaise).

Grinding your own burger meat:
Plan to grind the meat the same day you purchase it for maximum freshness. Chill a clean food-processor bowl and blade for 30 minutes or more in the freezer. Cut meat into ¾-inch cubes. Process in 2 batches. Using the pulse switch, pulse to produce meat particles about 1/8 to ¼ inch big. Combine batches and gently mix using a fork so meat does not get overworked. Use at once. You can also grind meat with a hand grinder or electric meat grinder using a ¼-inch plate.

Nutrition info Bacon Burger Sliders with Bacon Mayonnaise (per slider): CALORIES 544 (374 from fat); FAT 42g (sat. 15g); CHOL 97mg; SODIUM 719mg; CARB 16g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 25g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.