Smoky Sweet Cherry Pepper Cheeseburgers. (aka, my trashed up smokeshack.)

BEHOLD! My burger obsession returns.

It didn’t really go anywhere. In fact, a few weeks ago I ate a burger at Red Robin (after seeing the disgrace that was the Jersey Boys movie and also should I add: at like 11:30PM) and have been dreaming of it ever since. I would like to cover my entire life in onion straws right now.

But anyway. It’s Friday. Time for burgers.  And mojitos. And agua fresca for me… whomp whomp.

I realize this little chopped pepper makeshift relish below looks like nothing. But please take a moment to allow that to translate to EVERYTHING. This is everything.

This here was our 5th of July celebration, meaning that I made the burgers while Eddie cut the sleeves off of his 5K t-shirt from that previous morning. Welcome to true life: none of my t-shirt’s have sleeves.

So I must tell you: this is my trashed up version of the smoke shack burger at Shake Shack. A few years ago on my first visit there, I didn’t even try a regular burger. I went straight for the smoke shack. (And the cheese fries. DUH.)  Something about the sweet and hot cherry peppers with the bacon and… and… ugh. Just reeled me in.

I’ve since had a regular old burger there because sometimes you just want a REGULAR burger. But the smoke shack is my usual choice. It just does it for me.

For my at-home version, I added some smoked cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon and a smoky spread. Just enough smoke. Not enough that makes you feel like you’re eating a burger rubbed in an ashtray. Sorry for that delicious visual. But it’s the perfect amount of flavor, sweetness and heat. Because let’s be honest. I couldn’t just make a regular cheeseburger and cover it with chopped jarred peppers – which is kinda what I did anyway. With extras. It’s worth it though! Do I usually steer you wrong?

I found the sweet and hot cherry peppers (read: simply pimentos) at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and grabbed them immediately with “OMG SMOKE SHACK” in mind. They had no other destiny. No other choice. They were meant for this meal.

I can’t even think about this without losing my mind.


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Smoky Sweet Cherry Pepper Cheeseburgers

Yield: serves 4 appropriately, 2 obnoxiously

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (I like 85% grass fed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, sliced
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon diced dill pickle
1 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika (I adore this brand)
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
8 slices applewood smoked bacon, fried
2 cups hot and sweet cherry peppers (also called pimentos), diced
4 potato buns or your favorite hamburger buns

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the ground beef, salt and pepper until just combined. Allow the ground beef to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then form it into 4 equal sized patties. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the burgers and cook until your desired doneness - for medium-well, I do about 5 minutes per side. After you flip the burgers once, cover the tops with the slices cheddar cheese. At this point I like to cover the skillet and allow the cheese to melt all around the burger. You can also grill the burgers, obviously.

Mix up the smoky spread by combining the mayo, pickle, paprika and mustard in a a bowl until smooth and creamy. Sounds weird, tastes DELICIOUS. To assemble the burgers, spread the mayo on the bottom, topping it with the cheeseburger. Add the bacon on top along with a few spoonfuls of the peppers, then top it with the bun and smash it all together. EAT.

now just give me the fries.