Editors' Picks

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers

July 17, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: When rethinking the perfect burger, it's what's inside that counts.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

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There are perfect burgers made of beef, salt, and pepper. This is not one of those burgers. And it takes not a little, but a lot more effort, if you commit to doing it right.

Oh, you're still here? Good, because this is probably going to be the best burger you've ever had. 

We tend to think about doctoring up burgers from the outside -- with thick strips of bacon, obviously, or themed toppers. There are secret cult menus devoted to the many outfits a burger patty can wear. At most, when we consider the meat itself, we might think about shaking in some Worcestershire, or stuffing the middle with cheese.


But Suzanne Goin, the master of thoughtfully prepared, arrestingly flavorful food, takes perfect burger theory to another level -- by looking first within. 

A burger patty isn't so different from a meatball or crab cake. (You don't just make a ball of meat or a cake of crab -- you flavor it!) Here's how Goin goes about it.

She starts with ground pork, and essentially lards it with minced bacon and fresh Mexican chorizo, as you would a roast. "I'm adding the bacon and chorizo to help the meat stay moist, but also to flavor it with all that delicious smoky spiciness," Goin told me.

Next, she gathers up her aromatics -- shallot, garlic, fresh thyme, cumin. But instead of mixing them straight into the meat, she sautés them together first -- sweetening, softening, and unleashing them. The parsley she leaves fresh. Each ingredient has its place.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52  Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

Now, mix with your hands.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

Make patties. 

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

Grill them (or pan-fry them). Melt Manchego on top.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52  Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

You could put this on a bun and call it a day -- or take these ideas and riff on them endlessly. Or you can commit to the full Goin Grilled Pork Burger Experience, which also involves a homemade aioli and romesco sauce. Both tack on more time, spent dishes, and probably a slow burn in your dominant shoulder area.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52 

But all of these components can be made ahead -- in fact, the burgers taste better made a day in advance and aioli and romesco can be used and reused in other meals. 

Romesco from Food52  Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

Don't be scared. Take it from Food52er EmilyC, who sent this recipe to me: "I've made them countless times," she says. "I count them among my favorite things to eat."  

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

If you're feeling lazy or daunted, think of this: on top of the DIY burger, aioli, and romesco -- EmilyC has also made the brioche buns from scratch. "Halfway through the process I declared myself crazy -- but oh they were so, so good."

And I promised you the best burger you've ever had, right? That should be reason enough.

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers, from Food52

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers

From Sunday Suppers at Lucques (Knopf, 2005)

For the burgers:

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 chiles de arbol, thinly sliced on the bias
2 pounds ground pork
1/4? 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 buns or other good burger buns
2 ?ounces arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the aioli:

1 ?extra-large egg yolk
1/4 ?cup grapeseed oil
1/2? cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ?small clove garlic
1/4 ?lemon, for juicing
Pinch cayenne pepper
Kosher salt

For the romesco: 

5 ?ancho chiles
2? tablespoons raw almonds
2? tablespoons blanched hazelnuts
1 1/4 ?cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ?slice country bread, about 1-inch thick
1/3? cup San Marzano canned tomatoes
1 ?clove garlic, chopped
1 ?tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 ?lemon, for juicing
Kosher salt 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by James Ransom 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Jason K. April 30, 2014
wow, never knew burgers could be this complex (in a good way), but you proved me wrong. well done!! ^^
Rosie D. January 1, 2014
Im a private chef,I'm off to buy minced pork first thing.Thank you for your amazing recipes.
Savour September 26, 2013
I've had that burger at Goin's other restaurant, Tavern, and it is pretty amazing.
Freida R. August 8, 2013
I just made these for dinner tonight -- and they were so good that I didn't want to talk while I was eating my pork burger. Nom nom nom. I didn't have any chile de arbol so I substituted a tablespoon of aleppo pepper. I will make the romesco sauce tomorrow. Can't wait to eat them again!
blanka.n August 1, 2013
I can't wait to try these. Now that you mentioned the romesco sauce - I'm on my way to Stop & Shop!
darksideofthespoon July 30, 2013
Made these last night! Even made the Brioche buns. The burgers were pretty good, not the best I've had. But the romesco sauce! Oh god the romesco sauce! I snuck a few spoonfuls and couldn't stop. I'd eat a month old stale piece of bread if it had that sauce on it.
OC C. July 19, 2013
I made theses last night and, as others have said, these were some of the tastiest burgers we have ever eaten. We made the full Monty w/aioli and romesco. Layers and layers of flavors! Amazing!
Stephanie J. July 18, 2013
This looks amazing. My mouth is watering now!
Michael F. July 18, 2013
These are amazing, but if you need something a bit quicker/easier and made with beef check out my recipe for beef burgers with balsamic vinegar.

mcs3000 July 17, 2013
Congrats, Kristen on your 100th #genius recipe. Love this series.
Kristen M. July 18, 2013
Elycooks July 17, 2013
These are fantastic - worth all the effort. The Romesco has become a staple in our fridge and is wonderful with so many things. Just lovely!
zora July 17, 2013
I kneel in awe at Suzanne Goin's feet, and this dish sounds so good. But essentially, she is making pork sausage patties. Nothing wrong with that, but I like burgers medium rare and I do not like well-done burgers or medium rare pork sausage. Methinks this burger needs to be cooked through and the bacon is there not only for flavor but to add extra fat to counter the tendency for well-done meat to be dry.
fiveandspice July 17, 2013
I love Suzanne Goin, especially for her admission that she thinks the perfect accompaniment to pork is more pork - as evidenced in these burgers! These were actually what we decided to make for my birthday dinner, and they really are so completely worth every bit of effort.
justpicked July 17, 2013
Wow! This recipe sounds great! What brioche bun recipe did you use?
Kristen M. July 17, 2013
EmilyC said she used the recipe from Michel Richard's Happy in the Kitchen. I'm in awe.
Gail K. July 17, 2013
I wonder how these would do without aioli and romesco?
Aly July 17, 2013
I am a huge sauce junkie but my husband is not. We had a very similar recipe and I tried his without the sauce and it was wonderful. The chorizo really does hold moisture and the burger is incredible. Me however, I had to have the Aioli!
Kristen M. July 17, 2013
The burger definitely stands on its own, but you won't regret the romesco and aioli.
Lilia July 17, 2013
Ouaou !!
singing_baker July 17, 2013
I literally made these burgers last week how funny! My husband and I both said it was the best burger we have ever had. Totally worth the effort. Not to mention, I have been eating the leftover romesco on my morning eggs sooooo good!
Kristen M. July 17, 2013
We've been tossing it with chickpeas, scooping it onto roasted broccoli, dunking random pieces of bread in it -- eggs are next!
J D. July 17, 2013
Looks amazing! Can't wait to try.
Aly July 17, 2013
Chorizo mixed in with Pork or Beef adds the most amazing flavor for that extra seomthing. Everyone at the dinner will ask what it is you put in that burger!
Karl R. July 17, 2013
I was lucky enough to eat one of these after the photo shoot - absolutely delicious!
Lilia July 17, 2013
lucky you ^^