Put a little south in your mouth with this twist on the traditional cheeseburger.
If I were to choose one dish that most defined American grilling culture, it would have to be the hamburger. While its origins are subject to much debate, this beef and bun combo has been a staple at backyard cookouts for generations.
From the classic lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle topped burger to budget breaking American Wagyu patties topped with truffles, caviar, and lobster, there is no shortage of flavor combinations when it comes to burgers. Rather than trying to decide on just one, AmazingRibs.com is proud to introduce its “Burger of the Month” series.
This month, I’m paying tribute to my Southern roots with one of the burgers featured in our comprehensive burger article “A Taxonomy of the Different Species of Hamburger” – cooking up the pimento cheese burger. Popularized in Columbia, SC and found on menus throughout the South, this cheeseburger is defined by a rich and creamy spread called pimento cheese, comprised of cheese (either cheddar or processed cheese), mayonnaise, and pimentos.
For this particular twist on the pimento cheese burger, I begin with ground chuck that has been grilled to perfection using a reverse searing technique developed by our very own Meathead for his Steakhouse Steakburger. For the pimento cheese, I add smoked cheddar cheese for additional depth as well as cream cheese for extra creaminess. Combine the patty and smoked cheddar pimento cheese on a buttery brioche bun and you’ve got a burger that would make any Southerner proud!
Serve with: sweet iced tea.
- 8 ounces shredded smoked cheddar cheese, about 2 cups
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
- 4 ounce jar pimentos, drained and diced
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 1 teaspoon Mortons coarse kosher salt
- 2 buns (I prefer brioche hamburger buns)
- Prep. For the spread, combine the shredded smoked cheddar, softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, and diced pimentos in a medium sized mixing bowl. Blend well. Refrigerated the smoked pimento cheese spread until ready to use.
- For the spice mix, combine the black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Do not add the salt yet. It can compress the meat and we want the meat loose to hold the juices.
- Spread the meat out on a plate and sprinkle the spice mix onto the meat distributing it evenly. Divide the meat into two 8-ounce portions. Gently form the meat into patties that are approximately 1/2-inch wider than the bun to allow for shrinkage during the cooking process.
- Fire up. Prepare a grill for indirect cooking by placing a chimney full of pre-heated charcoal briquets on one side of the grill’s charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the grill vents to bring the temperature to about 225°F on the indirect side. Add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 225°F on the indirect side.
- Cook. Place the burgers on the indirect side of the grill and sprinkle the tops with salt. Cover the grill, positioning the vent directly above the burgers in order to force the smoke over and around the meat. Cook the patties for about 10 minutes.
- Push the tip of a rapid-read thermometer such as the Thermapen into the side of both burgers. When the temperature reaches 105°F, flip the burgers, sprinkle with salt, and cook for approximately 10 more minutes. Because they are not over direct heat, you do not need to flip them often.
- When the burgers are about 20°F below the final doneness temp you want (see AmazingRibs.com’s award winning Food Temperature Guide), get ready to move them to the direct-heat zone. If you are on a gas grill, crank it up to high. On a charcoal grill, you may want to add more pre-lit coals. If necessary, take the meat off of the grill and close the lid while the hot side heats up. If you have a pellet cooker or another grill that doesn’t have enough radiant heat to sear, put a cast iron pan or griddle in there—when the griddle collects a lot of heat, it can do the job.
- Put the burgers on the direct heat side to brown them. Leave the lid up so the heat is concentrated on one side of each burger. If the fire flares up, move the burger to another spot—flare ups can deposit bad-tasting soot. Flip the meat every minute, acting like a human rotisserie, so all the energy is focused on one surface at a time. The interior will warm, but not too much. Remove the burgers when browned and the interior reaches 5°F below the desired temperature. Don't overcook them while waiting for the second side to be perfect. If one side is paler than the other, that’s acceptable.
- Serve. Set the bottom of each bun on a plate and top each one with a burger patty. Add smoked pimento cheese to each patty and crown it with the top bun. Serve immediately.