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Kentucky Beercheese Burgers with Spicy Sorghum Salad

To be honest, when I moved from California to Kentucky two years ago, I doubted I would find much culinary inspiration. I was thrilled to find a plethora of local products and beautiful, seasonal produce. Kentucky Proud, a local agricultural movement that supports local produce and farmers, is now as strong as ever, and I am proud to shop at our bountiful, beautiful markets to support my new community. Beercheese was one of the first local products I encountered here and it has an avid fan following here in the Bluegrass state. It is typically served with crackers and crudite, but with its creamy texture and subtle beer flavor, it seemed a natural choice for a burger accompaniment. There is a local restaurant here in Central Kentucky that gets an abundance of local produce; I look forward to the months when the Holly Hill Inn begins using local radishes. They are absolutely jewel-like in color and shape; I never knew a root vegetable could be so vibrant in all its fuschia and purple glory. In keeping with the traditional accompaniments to beercheese, I came up with a salad that uses spicy radishes, crisp cucumbers, sweet carrots, and another local specialty for sweetness: sorghum. Sweet sorghum is another one of those products that I had never heard of, but once I saw it, it began popping up everywhere, most often as a spread for biscuits. It provides a sweetness that is more complex than that from table sugar, but can easily be replaced with molasses if sorghum is unavailable. Lastly, bourbon is practically synonymous with Kentucky, and the addition of it to the beef patties provides a subtle oaky quality that takes this burger to the next level.


Spicy Sorghum Salad
¼ cup sweet sorghum syrup
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup julienne radishes
½ cup julienne carrots
½ cup julienne cucumbers

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 clove garlic
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon flat beer

2 lbs freshly ground chuck
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 Kaiser rolls, split
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


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

To prepare spicy sorghum salad, whisk sorghum, white wine vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Add radishes, carrots, and cucumbers, tossing to coat. Set aside.

For Beercheese, combine cheese, Tabasco sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper in food processor, and with machine running, drizzle in beer until mixture is smooth and well combined.

In a large bowl, gently combine ground chuck, shallots, Worcestershire sauce, bourbon, salt, and pepper. Mix gently to combine and divide mixture into 6 round patties. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil and place patties on grill. Cook, turning once, approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium, or until desired doneness. Meanwhile, spread cut sides of rolls with butter and place on outer edges of grill for about 1-2 minutes, until lightly toasted.

To assemble, spread roll bottoms liberally with beercheese, approximately 2 tablespoons per bun. Top with burger patties and spicy sorghum salad. Add roll tops and enjoy!I