Suzanne Goin's Grilled Pork Burgers

June 28, 2023
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 6 burgers
Author Notes

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. But it's worth it, 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 the perfect themed toppers -- but Suzanne Goin, the master of thoughtfully prepared, arrestingly flavorful food, takes perfect burger theory to another level by looking first within. She lards the burger with minced bacon and fresh Mexican chorizo and flavors it with sautéed aromatics. It turns out that in rethinking the perfect burger, it's what's inside that counts.
Recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques (Knopf, 2005). —Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

For these extra-Genius pork burgers, it's *all* about extra flavor. Mexican chorizo and bacon flavor the burger patties, and it's all topped with two sauces: a creamy, lemon-y aioli, and a nutty, smoky romesco sauce. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the burger:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1/2 cup diced shallots
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 2 chiles de arbol, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1/4 pound Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 3 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 slices Manchego cheese
  • 6 brioche buns or other good burger buns
  • Aioli (recipe follows)
  • Romesco (recipe follows)
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the aioli & romesco:
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1/4 lemon, for juicing, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 5 ancho chiles
  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons blanched hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 slice country bread, about 1-inch thick
  • 1/3 cup San Marzano canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. For the burger:
  2. In a medium sauté 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.
  3. Return the pan to the stove over high heat for 1 minutes. Add the olive oil and shallots. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for a few minutes, stirring once or twice, until the shallots start to soften. Add the minced garlic, thyme, cumin and sliced chile. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black peppery, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots become translucent. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the ground pork, chorizo, bacon, shallot mixture, and parsley, being careful not to overmix 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.
  5. Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before cooking and remove pork burgers from the refrigerator to come to room temperature (if you made them in advance).
  6. When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the pork burgers with olive oil and grill them 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until they're nicely browned. Turn the burgers over, and place a piece of cheese on each one. Cook another 3 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked through. (It should still be slightly pink in the center.)
  7. 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.
  8. Spread both sides of the buns and the aioli. Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun, and dollop with a generous amount of romesco. Place some arugula leaves on top, and finish with the top half of the bun.
  1. For the aioli & romesco:
  2. Make the aioli: 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.
  3. Pound the garlic with ¼ teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle. Whisk the garlic paste into the aioli. Season with ¼ 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.
  4. Make the romesco: Heat the oven to 375°F. Remove and discard the stems and seeds from the chiles, and then soak them in warm water for 15 minutes to soften. Strain the chiles, and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until they smell nutty and are golden brown.
  6. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and wait a minute. Fry the slice of bread on both sides until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pan and cool. Cut it into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
  7. Return the pan to the stove over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the chiles and sauté for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until the tomato juices have evaporated and the tomato starts to color slightly. Turn off the heat, and leave the mixture in the pan.
  8. In a food processor, pulse together the toasted nuts, remaining garlic clove, and fried bread until the bread and nuts are coarsely ground. Add the chile-tomato mixture and process for a minute more.
  9. With the machine running, slowly pour in the remaining 1 cup olive oil and process until you have a smooth purée. Don't worry, the romesco will "break" or separate into solids and oil; this is normal. Add the parsley, and season to taste with lemon juice and more salt if you like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Judy
  • les corry
    les corry
  • Megan
  • Jane Zimmerman
    Jane Zimmerman
  • Lindsay Christians
    Lindsay Christians
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

40 Reviews

Judy June 14, 2022
These are quite delicious. I halved and made for my husband and me, making 4 burgers and freezing 2. I made the romesco, but had a fail on the aioli. I agree the aioli is not needed. I will make these again for a larger crowd as the work is too much for 2! Anyone know if the extra romesco can be frozen or another way to use it? Love Ms. Goins recipes- thank you!
les C. June 27, 2021
There is only two of us around here could the recipe be halved?
Megan July 22, 2018
Made these again tonight after first making them 5 years ago! These are so incredibly rich. So incredibly flavorful and indulgent. I skipped the aioli this time and didn't miss it. I also used a different Romesco recipe this time because I had particular ingredients to use up. So amazing! I think these would be excellent as sliders as part of a small plates dinner. As large burgers, the flavor and richness can be overwhelming. Or.. I've thought they would be great shaped into tiny meatballs and served with the romesco for dipping as an appetizer. Maybe even tuck a little piece of manchego into the center of the meatball? I will have to try that next time..
Megan May 18, 2020
Just coming back to note that I did make these into meatballs.. just shredded the manchego and added it to the mix. Browned on the stove then finished in the oven. Spread the romesco on the serving plate and put the meatballs on top with toothpicks. A little bowl of extra romesco on the side for dilping. Huge hit.
Danielle C. July 24, 2020
Thanks for coming back to update! I want to try this and reading your comments let's me know it's worth the work.
Jane Z. July 1, 2018
It'll be several months before I can try this recipe (for several reasons), but I'm sure looking forward to it! Can't wait to taste them! Tucking the recipe away for now, thanks so much!
Virginia May 30, 2018
To each his own.
Charles June 14, 2023
You really can't let go of this, can you, Virginia?
Lindsay C. May 29, 2018
Absolutely in love with these incredible burgers!

I did make a few minor mods: I went to the butcher shop and got freshly ground pork shoulder, bacon ends and a link of fresh green chorizo. I swapped in local white onions for the shallots (not in season here) and my ratios were ultimately not exact. I have this cookbook so I know Suzanne calls for chiles de arbol a lot; I wasn't sure if the ones in the burger were fresh or dried (we don't really get a super wide variety of peppers here in Wisconsin), so I grabbed a seeded jalapeno and threw that in.

Oh, and the romesco sauce is delicious too. I'm partial to the one Amanda put in "Cooking for Mr. Latte" but this one was fantastic as well!
Hollis R. May 29, 2018
i can hardly restrain myself from effing yelling my approval! this recipe sounds too good to be true. i will be making these. Virginia's comment (just below) spurred me on -- "so much ... fat" -- those words are music to my ears.
Virginia May 27, 2018
So much saturated fat, can't get myself to try them.
Charles June 14, 2023
Moral indignation is so good for the soul! I'm certain the rest of us are now properly chastened.
Virginia June 14, 2023
Are you of the view that people who don't share your choices cannot have an opinion? I don't judge others, just expressed my choices, go for it and have all the fat you want.
kschurms May 26, 2018
Okay I’ve finally made these burgers after years of drooling over the recipe, and as expected, they were amazing. The burger patty is truly the most flavorful burger I’ve ever had. I used canned adobo chiles because I couldn’t find fresh. For the romesco, I used a combo of poblano and Serrano chiles because it’s what I could find, and they were delicious. The only thing is that the aioli recipe really doesn’t work. I just ended up with a thin, eggy sauce, and tossed it. I substituted with a jazzed up mayo (parsley, lemon, garlic). It took me 3 hours all in and was 100% worth the effort.
Mel May 27, 2017
Can anyone clarify if the chiles de Arbol should be dried or fresh? It doesn't specify. Thank you!!
les C. June 27, 2021
lfm August 23, 2016
The Romesco recipe makes an entire pint jar plus so plenty left for other ideas.
Pkkell June 1, 2014
These sound really yummy, but too much work for a couple living in an equatorial climate. I'll have to enjoy these vicariously.
susan May 30, 2014
I'm allergic to nuts. Is there something I can use to substitute in the romesco sauce or is it better to skip them? Roasted sunflower seeds maybe?
Lauren May 28, 2014
Just to be clear -- you add the bacon and chorizo while they are still raw? Or did I miss a step where they are to be browned prior to mixing with the raw ground pork?
Rhonda35 May 28, 2014
Raw. They're incorporated into the raw ground pork and everything cooks through on the grill.
Lauren May 28, 2014
Awesome. Thank you!
Rhonda35 May 21, 2014
SO good! I will make these again...and again and again...!
Chris71 September 2, 2013
What's the best way to mince the bacon?
Kristen M. September 2, 2013
With a sharp knife! Barring that, partially or completely freezing the slices can help too. I stacked a few slices, cut them in half lengthwise and stacked again, then sliced lengthwise, then crosswise, and then sliced through the whole pile several more times -- you really want them to be in tiny pieces.
Ham August 23, 2013
A lot of work, but very worth it in the end. I made a batch for a BBQ along with the aioli and romesco. As others have stated, the real star here was the romesco. It would be a shame to have the pork burger without it. On the other hand, the cheese and aioli went unnoticed against the strong flavors of the burger/romesco. I followed the ingredients and ended up with seven (7) hearty burgers. Yay!
chiefkief August 18, 2013
Made these burgers for a bbq party this weekend and had a lot of difficulty with the aioli (tried to make it twice and it just never came together, sadly) and the romesco was pretty darn spicy (no one used more than a teaspoon for each patty). But everyone absolutely LOVED the burgers and brioche buns!
Anna C. August 12, 2013
Would pan frying be an ok substitute for a grill?
Kristen M. August 12, 2013
Yes, definitely.
Alexvk August 4, 2013
I made these tonight and they were the best burgers I've ever had. Wonderful with the sauces too.