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Maple Pecan Patio Burgers with Grilled Pears

The first time I had goat cheese was in a restaurant when I discovered it buried in the middle of my mundane-no-more meatloaf - I loved it! Putting it in the center of my burgers became an immediate habit. The maple and pecans comes from my need to put nuts in EVERYTHING, and the discovery that even with beef you can't go wrong with sweet and salty. The pears were admittedly an afterthought - and WOW!


2 pounds ground chuck
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Colavita Olive Oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons maple flavored syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the rack
3 fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
12 slices pre-cooked maple flavored bacon
6 thick-style fresh English muffins, split (Kaiser buns can be substituted)
3 cups torn butter lettuce


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high, or prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill.
Shape meat into 12 patties slightly larger than the bun size. Spoon goat cheese into the center of 6 of the patties and top with remaining patties. Crimp edges to seal. Sprinkle and rub salt in on both sides of each burger, Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy nonstick fireproof sauté pan on the grill. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to sweat and soften. Add pecans and continue to sauté until pecans are toasted. Add maple syrup and salt and stir until heated through. Set mixture aside and cover to keep warm.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the pear slices on the rack and grill, turning once, for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to foil and wrap to keep warm.
Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Place the bacon on the rack during the last 2 minutes of grilling to heat, turning once. Place the muffins or buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Return pears to rack to heat if needed.
To assemble the burgers, spoon a portion of the glazed pecan and onion mixture on each muffin or bun bottom, followed by a patty, then top with slices of grilled pear and bacon. Arrange butter lettuce over bacon, add the tops and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.


If fresh pears aren't in season canned can be substituted, but with obvious sacrifice :) Pre-cooked bacon is widely available and is the best thing since sliced bread - truly. No more mess! The maple flavor variety is common and essential here! Wolferman's English Muffins are the best thick muffins I know of - do NOT try these on a thin standard dry muffin - yuck - go with a soft Kaiser bun for a substitute if necessary.