Summer Grilling: Go With Suzanne Goin's Pork Burgers

The Tavern Pork Burger/Photo by Rob Stark Photography

It's no secret that Suzanne Goin knows her way around a summer menu. At Lucques, dishes change with each season--each week--depending on what she and her chefs find at the farmers' markets. There might be soft shell crabs with sweet corn, or ricotta dumplings with summer squash, among other things. She and business partner Caroline Styne love summer so much, they even throw a barbecue at the restaurant, which sells out every year.

In the Larder at Tavern, Goin offers new dishes to take home for a picnic or barbecue--buttermilk fried chicken; corn salad with avocado and lime; watermelon salad with feta; faro tabbouleh with summer vegetables. Not to mention the great sandwiches already on the menu (I'm a sucker for the tuna with black olives and egg).

So it's no surprise that when it comes to the quintessential summer dish--burgers on the grill--Goin's first inclination is to go classic.

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"I love a beef burger, grass-fed meat, grilled and topped with red onion, super-ripe beefsteak tomato, avocado, bacon and lettuce," she says. "And I must have ketchup! I know it's not cool, and maybe it's just a childhood palate thing, but I HAVE to have ketchup."

A simple burger is a thing of beauty, but the one she serves at Tavern is hard to beat. The triple-pork burger--ground pork, chorizo and bacon--is topped with melted Manchego cheese, house-made aioli and romesco sauce. Goin describes it best: "It's just smoky, fatty, juicy, dripping-down-your-chin delicious."

The woman does not lie: This is an impressive burger. It takes a little more preparation than just throwing a good beef burger on the grill, but it's worth the effort. We've omitted the romesco sauce here for length, but you should definitely try making your own aioli. It's so much better than regular mayo.

Grilled Pork Burgers with Aoili
Recipe adapted from Suzanne Goin
Makes 6 burgers

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • ½ cup diced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 2 chiles de arbol, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • ¼ pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 3 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 slices Manchego cheese
  • 6 brioche or other good burger buns
  • Aioli (recipe follows)
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium pan, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat a few minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and darken slightly. Pound the seeds in a mortar or spice grinder until coarsely ground. Return the pan to the stove over high heat for 1 minute. Add the olive oil and shallots. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook a few minutes, stirring once or twice, until the shallots start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, cumin, and sliced chile. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots become translucent. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the ground pork, chorizo, bacon, shallot mixture, and parsley, being careful not to over mix the meat. Season with 1 ¼ teaspoons salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Shape the meat into six 6-ounce patties. Chill in the refrigerator if not using right away. Let the burgers return to room temperature before grilling.

3. Light the grill 30 minutes before cooking. Brush the pork burgers with olive oil, and grill them 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until they're nicely another 3 minutes or so, until the pork is just cooked through. (It should still be slightly pink in the center.) Slice the buns in half, brush them with olive oil, and toast them on the grill, cut side down, for a minute or so, until they're lightly browned.

4. Spread both sides of the buns with aioli. Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun. Top with cheese, place some arugula leaves on top, and finish with the top half of the bun.

Aioli

  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • ½ lemon, for juicing
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
1. Place the yolk in a stainless steel bowl. Begin whisking in the grapeseed oil drop by drop. Once the mixture has thickened and emulsified, you can whisk in the remaining grapeseed and olive oils in a slow steady stream. If the mixture gets too thick, add a drop or two of water.

2. Pound the garlic with ¼ teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle. Whisk the garlic paste into the aioli. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and the cayenne. Taste for balance and seasoning. If the aioli seems thick and gloppy, thin it with a little water. In addition to thinning the aioli, this will also make it creamier.

About the Author

Los Angeles-based freelance food writer.
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