Pastrami Bacon Burgers
So I had made pastrami bacon, and it tasted awesome....but now I had to figure out what dishes this strong charactered peppery and earthy pork would be best suited for. It should probably come as no surprise that my first thoughts drifted to things that already are proven to be well suited for that pastrami flavor, like rueben sandwiches. I wasn't just going to make pastrami bacon reubens though since that might lead to bacon overload, so instead I went with the idea and turned it into one mighty tasty pastrami bacon burger!
With the exception of using pastrami bacon plus a beef patty for the meat, I kept the rest of this recipe as a purely classic reuben, and that started with mixing together a Russian dressing. I normally have all the required elements for this dressing on hand—mayo, ketchup, shallots, horseradish, Worcestershire, and paprika—so I've always whipped it up fresh when needed. I'm not too familiar with the flavor of the bottled stuff, but I particularly like the bite of the horseradish here and I can imagine it's probably more pronounced when making it at home, plus you can tailor it to your own tastes.
For the beef patties, I did nothing fancy, just the standard ground chuck with at least 20% fat and then a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. I did, however, make my patty shape more oval to fit the rye bread "bun" better, and a little squatter than usual to avoid the final burger from getting so tall it would be hard to bite into.
If you don't include the process of making the pastrami bacon itself, that was the entirety of the prep needed before grilling. Cooking the burger though was a multi-step process that began with the grilling of the bacon, which I did over indirect heat with the grill covered. I lifted the lid now and then to see how the bacon was doing and to flip it for even cooking. In a little under ten minutes the strips had pooled with grease, darkened, and crisped up perfectly without any of the smell or mess associated with cooking bacon in a pan indoors—two reasons I opt to grill my bacon more often than not.
As each strip of bacon was done, I moved it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and then, when the grill was empty, I placed the patties on the hot side of the fire and let them cook until thy started to brown on the first side and released from the grates with ease. I continued to cook the beef, flipping occasionally, until it felt like it was roughly medium rare. I didn't rely on my trusty Thermapen this time around and ended up overcooking the burgers to my personal liking, but thanks to all the fat content, they were still plenty juicy and tasty.
Next step was to butter up some slices of rye bread and toast them on the now empty grill. I do like to toast them quickly over direct heat, but I try to find the cooler spots of the fire for this because bread can go from golden to burnt in no time—I like some insurance from accidentally charring the bread to death without having time to notice.
Once the bread was toasty, I removed it from the grill and slathered the non-buttered sides with the Russian dressing. I then topped the bread with a patty, sauerkraut, a slice of Swiss cheese, three strips of the pastrami bacon, and the top slice of rye.
Then back on the grill they went, positioned over indirect heat. By now the fire had cooled down a bit to the medium/medium-high range, which is good for more gently roasting the burger to melt the cheese without further cooking the meat too much.
After a few minutes of covered cooking, these babies looked mouthwatering and smelled incredible—I couldn't wait to try one out.
The first bite brought with it all the flavors of a reuben, which brought so much joy to me. That crunch and earthy rye character started things off, with the patty adding a big beefy flavor with a lot of juiciness next. The sauerkraut lent a crunch, but also a more necessary tartness to balance out the richness that was added to by the melted Swiss and hearty bacon. I was concerned the bacon wouldn't be enough to really add that pastrami taste, but I was proven wrong as three strips seemed to be the perfect amount to give that pastrami character proper representation. Finally, the Russian dressing was just icing on the cake with its savory and sharp bite. This proved to be an incredible, although probably quite predictable, use of that pastrami bacon, and now that I have the basics out of the way, it's on to more interesting and creative uses and I can't wait to see what comes next!
Pastrami Bacon Burgers
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 30 Minutes
- For the Russian Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- 2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- For the Burgers
- 1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck, at least 20% fat
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 slices pastrami bacon
- 8 slices rye bread
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 cup sauerkraut
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- To make the Russian dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, shallots, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika. Transfer to an airtight container and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the burgers: Break off 1/3 pound of ground beef and gently shape into a patty, working the meat until it just holds together. Using your thumb, create a dimple in the middle of the burger. Repeat with remaining ground beef. Season patties liberally all over with salt and pepper.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on either side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean grilling grate. Lay bacon slices on grilling grate above cool area of grill. Cover grill and cook until bacon begins to shrink in size and develop pools of fat, about 5 minutes. Flip bacon slices over, cover, and continue to cook until bacon is deeply browned and crisp, 5-8 minutes more. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
- Place patties on hot sides of grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well charred and meat registers between 110-115°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into center of patty. Transfer patties to a cutting board or plate.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread and place on hot side of grill, buttered side down, and toast until light golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove bread from grill and spread a layer or dressing on unbuttered side of each piece of bread. Top 4 slices of bread with a patty, sauerkraut, slice of cheese, and 3 slices of bacon each. Place remaining 4 pieces of bread on top and transfer burgers to cool area of grill, cover, and cook until cheese has melted and burgers register 125°F for medium-rare or 135°F for medium. Transfer burgers to a plate or serving platter and serve immediately.