This recipe appears in:The Burger Lab's Toppings Week 2013: Hot and Smoky Cheeseburgers with Bacon and Pickled Cherry Pepper Relish
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- 1 1/2 cups pickled cherry peppers, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped
- 1 pound sliced bacon, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 20 ounces freshly ground beef, divided into four 5-ounce patties
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 thick slices yellow or white onion
- 4 slices American or cheddar cheese
- Shredded iceberg lettuce and pickles (if desired)
- 4 toasted hamburger buns
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange half of bacon on a rimmed baking sheet and cook in oven until crisp and well browned, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, place cherry peppers in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 short pulses. Cut remaining half of bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat bacon in a 12-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add sugar and chopped cherry peppers and their juices. Cook until juices are mostly evaporated and pepper-bacon mixture has a chunky, relish-like texture, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
When ready to serve, season burger patties generously with salt and pepper and cook burgers to desired doneness on a hot grill or in a skillet on the stovetop, 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium, topping with cheese for last minute of cooking. Let burger patties rest for 5 minutes off heat. While burgers are resting, season onions with salt and pepper and cook on hot grill or in a lightly oiled skillet until tender and well browned on both sides.
Place shredded lettuce on bottom buns and top with burger patties. Top with bacon-cherry pepper relish, cooked onion slices, and bacon. Close burgers and serve immediately.