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Blue Ridge Steak & Bacon Burgers with Smoked Cheddar & Pickled Green Apple Ribbons

Nothing beats a summertime evening meal under the stars in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. Listening to a little night music courtesy of the crickets, frogs, and owls. Indulging in a chilled glass (or two) of Sutter Home wine. Laughing with friends and family. And sinking my teeth into a juicy bacon cheeseburger hot off the grill.

With this recipe, I wanted to capture the flavors I thought best described the region I call home. Bacon and cheese are classics, but the smokiness of both in this burger are perfectly complemented by the crisp, tartness of the apple ribbons. It's a simple burger to prepare, and one that's perfect for entertaining...


Pickled Green Apple Ribbons:
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Colavita olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large granny smith apple
Sweet Mustard Glaze:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
12 slices uncooked smoked bacon
2 (1-lb. each) ribeye steaks, cubed
2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
6 slices smoked cheddar cheese
6 soft Kaiser rolls, split


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the Pickled Green Apple Ribbons, combine the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer peel from the apple, and continue to peel down to the core, making several long ribbons (some may break, but that’s ok). Add the apple ribbons to the bowl. Toss well to coat and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Sweet Mustard Glaze, combine the brown sugar, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat a large, heavy cast iron skillet on the grill. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Wrap in foil to keep warm.

To make the patties, place the cubes of steak into a large food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground. Place the ground steak into a large bowl. Combine with the sage, salt, and black pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn the burgers and brush with the Sweet Mustard Glaze. Continue to cook, turn, and brush the burgers every 2-3 minutes until done to preference (about 10-14 minutes total for medium). Place the cheese slices on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble the burgers, place a cheese-topped patty on each roll bottom. Top each patty with 2 pieces of bacon, and some of the pickled green apple ribbons, respectively. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers


If smoked cheddar cheese is unavailable, regular cheddar may be substituted.