Monday, June 20, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Burgers

Looking for a way to spice up a summer barbecue? Try this hamburger seasoned with a Jamaican spice mixture of Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic. Scotch bonnet peppers, or their habanero cousins, are insanely hot, so you don’t really need much. You can substitute jalapenos, but the flavor is really different, so I would stick to Scotch bonnets or habaneros if you can get them. Cool off the chili heat with a citrus, mayo-based coleslaw. The oil in the mayo helps to absorb the spicy chili, to take the edge of the heat.

*Note: Scotch Bonnet and habanero chile peppers are very hot and can cause extreme pain if they come in contact with your eyes. Strongly recommend wearing protective gloves while handling the chilies and the jerk mixture.

Jamaican Jerk Burgers
Makes 6 burgers

2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 Tbsp water
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon molasses
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds ground beef, at least 16% fat
2 cups shredded cabbage
Pinch of chopped thyme
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp of orange juice or lime juice (if using lime juice add a teaspoon of sugar)
1 teaspoon of grated orange or lime zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, put the vinegar, water, chili, garlic, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, molasses, ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor, finely mince the chili and garlic. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Using your hands, gently mix the jerk mixture in with the ground beef in a large bowl until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Shape into patties, about ½ inch thick and wider than the diameter of your hamburger bun. Chill about 30 minutes or until you are ready to cook. (Remember to wear gloves while handling jerk seasoning or thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after handling.)

In a medium bowl, gently mix the cabbage, thyme, mayonnaise, citrus juice, zest, salt and pepper.

Prepare gas or charcoal grill for cooking over high direct heat. Place the patties on the clean, well-oiled grill grate. Grill the burgers for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers while cooking. If you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a cast iron frying pan.

Serve burgers topped with coleslaw, with or without hamburger buns.

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