This is a simple, grilled patty of quality home-ground beef slathered with a bit of bacon date jam, some smokey charred poblano mayo and a salty, spicy, crispy tuille of cheese. To me, this is a wonderful balance of sweet, smoke, salty and spice with all the right textures.
For the beef, I chose a Denver steak because the butcher did not have any boneless short ribs and suggested the Denver steak which has what I consider to be a great meat to fat ratio (about 80/20). I also had never had this cut and, living in Denver, figured I should even if I was going to grind it up and not appreciate it in its steakly glory.
In place of ketchup I chose to make a bacon date mixture which then required something to balance the sweet. So I grilled poblanos and blended them with a bit of mayo. Finally, recalling an impressive UFO-like massive disk of fried cheese on a burger we had on a road trip somewhere between Colorado and Illinois, I decided to fry up some asiago with a sprinkle of aleppo. A crisp piece of lettuce and a pretzel bun completed the burger and it was everything I hoped it would be (except for the photo which I did not have any patience to stage). —savorthis
* If you are grinding your own beef (which you should) get a good quality beef with about 80% lean to 20% fat (I might go a bit less on the fat, but this is a good ratio for me). Sometimes I choose short ribs or will mix something like chuck with some bacon. Cut the meat into small cubes and place on a baking sheet in the freezer until it starts to get firm (if you are really geeky you can chill the grinder, bowl, etc too). Grind twice through the larger hole attachment, chilling in between if it warms up. Chill until ready to use, salting/mixing/forming at the last minute.
Heat water and soak dates until soft. Meanwhile, char peppers over grill or under broiler until blackened all over. Place in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam. Use the back of a knife to scrape most of the charred skin off as well as the seeds and ribs. Coarsely chop. Blend with mayo, scrape into bowl and rinse out blender. Can be made a day or two ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
Heat bacon over medium low heat and render slowly until beginning to brown, but not quite crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl and pour bacon fat into a small bowl. Return 2 tablespoons fat to pan and cook onions with a bit of salt until golden brown.
Blend dates, water, bacon and onions until smooth, adding another tablespoon of bacon fat toward the end. Pour back into pan and cook over medium heat until thickened and darker in color. Turn off heat, stir in vinegar and adjust for salt. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Heat nonstick pan to medium and add 1/4 cheese. Add a sprinkle of aleppo or black pepper if desired. Cook until edges are just starting to brown. Flip with a spatula and cook a minute or so more. Drain on paper towel and repeat with remaining cheese.
Remove meat from fridge and heat grill over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt and some pepper and mix meat to incorporate. Form into 4 patties. Grill to your preference. To assemble, spread the bacon date mix on the bottom bun, top with the burger, cheese tuille, lettuce and poblano mayo. Enjoy.