When I wanted to create a memorable signature burger for LuLu’s, I turned to a homemade cheese dip that I serve at home when I have company. Pimento cheese is a Southern food staple; I make mine with a touch of honey ale that gives it a little tang (My Honey Ale Pimento Cheese recipe is in the cookbook). When I paired the pimento cheese with fried green tomatoes, I knew it was good. Then I added a little bacon, and wow! I knew I had a winner. I’ve given you two cooking methods here: on the grill and in a pan. So consider yourself fully equipped to make your signature version of the perfect burger. Let me know how it goes!
Pimento Burger with Fried Green Tomatoes
Makes 4 (8-ounce) burgers
2 pounds ground chuck or sirloin
½ tablespoon of sea salt
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Organic olive oil cooking spray (for grilling), or 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for pan cooking)
4 brioche buns or ciabatta rolls
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fried green tomatoes (see below)
8 bacon slices, cooked
Lettuce of choice for garnish (I prefer the delicate varieties of Bibb, baby romain, or even spicy arugula)
- Divide the ground beef into four equal portions.
- On a baking sheet or flat surface, gently form each portion into a patty, trying not to overwork the meat. Lightly press your thumb in the center of each patty, making a slight indentation. Season patties with the salt and pepper.
Make the burgers:
- To grill burgers: preheat a grill and lightly coat the grates of the grill with cooking spray. Make sure the grates are nice and hot. Place the burgers on the grill and cook until the first side is lightly charred. Flip and grill the burgers, uncovered, to your desired internal temperature: for medium-rare, about 3 minutes on each side; and for medium, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. If the juices from a burger are dripping fat onto the coals and it starts to flame or the burger is on a hot spot, move the burger while cooking it but don’t flip it. I try to flip the burgers only once, and I never press down on the burgers with the spatula because I don’t want to release all the good juices!
To cook the burgers in a pan: in a large heavy skillet (10 to 12 inches, preferably cast iron), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the burgers to the pan and cook until the first side is lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes (follow the cooking times for grilling). Flip the burners and char them on the second side to your desired doneness. Again, try to flip the burgers only once and avoid the temptation to press down on the burgers with your spatula.
- Slice each bun or roll in half. Place each piece face down on the grill or skillet to lightly toast. Remove the buns from the grill/skillet, lightly butter them, and arrange them on a serving platter. Remove the burgers from the grill/skillet for a minute or two to let them rest but not cool.
- Place a thick slice of fried tomato on the bottom half of each bun, then top each tomato slice with a burger. Add a dollop of pimento cheese on top of each burger, followed by two slices of crispy bacon and the top half of the bun. Garnish with lettuce and enjoy!
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 cups Flour Power Fry Mix (see below)
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce
4 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 cups peanut, vegetable, or Canola oil, or enough to fill the skillet about 2 inches deep
- Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels or set a wire rack over the top.
- Put the fry mix in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and the hot sauce.
- Dip the tomato slices into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge them through the fry mix. Repeat once more, coating the slices thoroughly.
- In a large heavy skillet (10 to 12 inches, preferably cast iron), heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 355°F on a candy /deep-fry thermometer, or until a little flour flicked into the oil sizzles.
- Fry the tomatoes in the hot oil in small batches (about four slices at a time) until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side, turning once during cooking. Carefully remove the fried tomatoes with a slotted spatula and transfer to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven while you finish frying the remaining tomatoes.
Flour Power Fry Mix
Makes 2 cups
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons LuLu’s Crazy Creola Seasoning or other Creole seasoning
1½ teaspoon sea salt (See note)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Note: if using other Creole seasoning, reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon.