Cajun Burgers With Spicy Remoulade: A Holy (Trinity) Marriage

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Andouille sausage and beef are combined in these flavorful Cajun-inspired burgers. [Photographs: Morgan Eisenberg]

What is the Holy Trinity? Some would say it's the Cajun aromatic combo of bell pepper, onion, and celery. During peak grilling season, though, burger fanatics might insist it's a bun, beef patty, and slice of American cheese. I don't care to wade into these types of arguments—I'm a lover, not a fighter. So, in a preemptive attempt to keep the peace, I've gone ahead and married both into one happily diverse whole: a Cajun-themed burger with an andouille-beef patty; a bell pepper, onion, and celery topping; and a spicy remoulade. Oh, and I also threw on some blue cheese...just because.

Let's start with that patty. This is a grind-it-yourself project, since we're combining andouille, the Creole smoked pork sausage, with the beef. It's important to grind it all together at once; the alternative option of mixing minced andouille into pre-ground beef would result in an over-worked patty with a tight, meatball-like texture. You can use a meat grinder if you have one. I don't, so I use my food processor instead.

I put beef chuck—which I've first put in the freezer, very briefly, so it's thoroughly chilled—in the food processor, give it a few pulses to get it started, then add the andouille and pulse them both together until I have the ground meat I'm looking for.

Just as important as grinding both meats together is handling the meat mixture gently when shaping it into patties. Otherwise, it becomes too tight and dense. I form the meat into patties, always making my burgers about half an inch larger than the diameter of the buns, since I have to account for the shrinking that occurs when they cook. A dimple pressed into the surface of each patty will help it retain its shape when grilled.

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Here's a tip for prepping your topping: Slice the celery very thinly with a vegetable peeler, then soak it in cold water. The celery's cells will absorb water, swell, and press against each other, leading to an even crisper, crunchier bite. (The technical name for this swelling of plant cells with fluid is turgor pressure, and it's the very same thing that leads thirsty houseplants to perk up after you've watered them.) It also causes the celery strips to curl into ringlets, creating a shape that's well suited to sitting atop burgers.

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The remoulade, meanwhile, comes together in just a few minutes, once again with the help of the food processor. In my version, I blend condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, and horseradish with flavorings like lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and cayenne pepper. I love the spiciness it delivers, but if you prefer a milder sauce, feel free to dial back on the hot sauce and cayenne.

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The last step is grilling it all and serving. I start by cooking the onions and bell peppers until lightly charred. Then I grill the burgers, checking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer to get perfect results. I also grill the buns so that they can stand up to the remoulade. After that, it's time to bring it all together into a beautiful union.

Once again, #lovewins.

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