Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cuban Burgers

Sadly, the end of summer is rapidly approaching. While there is little difference between the couple weeks before and after Labor Day, the holiday weekend is an important psychological benchmark that symbolizes the transition into fall, my favorite season. As at the end of every summer, no matter how much I did, I look back and wish I would have done more things and gone more places, but looking back at my culinary adventures this summer, I would say my greatest success is my multitude of burger creations. Although I definitely won't stop grilling just because it's past Labor Day, I think it's appropriate to send summer out on high note with another decadent burger recipe and offer up this recipe for the coming holiday weekend.

Cuban sandwiches are one of my favorite sandwiches (the Reuben being the other), and something I have a hard time passing up when I'm out to eat. The traditional Cuban sandwich is a sumptuous combination of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles, pressed together into melty nirvana between two slices of Cuban bread. Although you can't go wrong with the traditional sandwich form, I couldn't resist adapting it into a decadent burger, my favorite creative culinary palette as of late. This flavorful burger makes no apologies for its layers of richness from the ground pork, ham, and cheese, but has just the right amount of acidity and sharpness from the mustard and pickles to cut through to fatty pork goodness. A delicious indulgence like this burger is a great way to send off the summer but also happily served with a cold beer during the football season.

Cuban Burgers
serves 2

8 ounces ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 hamburger buns, split and toasted
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Sliced dill pickles

1. Preheat a grill pan or gas grill over medium to medium-high heat or prepare a charcoal grill (my personal preference). Divide ground pork into two even patties and season each side with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook burgers until internal temperature reach 160 degrees F.

2. While the burgers are cooking, spread half the mustard on one half of each hamburger bun and top with pickles. Once the burgers are cooked through, top each burger with two slices of ham and one slice of Swiss cheese and cook until the the cheese is melted and the ham is warmed through. Transfer to the bottom halves of the hamburger buns, top with the other half, and serve hot.

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