Smoky Pork Burgers with Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw

August 16, 2009
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4 burgers, plus 2 cups of slaw
Author Notes

Pork and fennel is one of my favorite flavor combinations, but the inspiration for putting them together in burger form came from, of all places, a food truck. Chef Matt Gennuso of Chez Pascal restaurant here in Providence recently launched his Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile food truck, which serves all manner of creative sausages and sandwiches, and one recent special was a revelation – a juicy slab of bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf served on a soft roll with a crunchy kohlrabi slaw.

I decided to keep the pork and bacon combo but turn it into burgers, seasoned with smoked Spanish paprika and toasted fennel seeds, with a crunchy, vinegary fennel slaw to contrast the rich and juicy pork. If a cheeseburger is your thing, a slice of melted Manchego wouldn’t be out of place. —lastnightsdinner

Test Kitchen Notes

Pork burgers always sound good in theory, but they don't necessarily turn out that way in practice. Ground pork can be dry and must be cooked just so. Lastnightsdinner came up with the perfect solution (and really the solution to so many of life's problems): just add bacon. She has you fold finely (and as we learned, it needs to be really fine) chopped bacon into the ground pork, along with some great aromatics -- fennel seed, onion and smoked paprika. The bacon fat helps keep the burgers moist and adds its own layer of flavor. To go with the burger you make a tart little cabbage and fennel salad, just the right counterpoint to the rich burger. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Smoky Pork Burgers
  • 1 pound ground pork sirloin
  • 1 cup finely chopped bacon, from about 2-3 rashers
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • 4 soft burger rolls or sandwich buns
  • Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded fennel bulb
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  1. Smoky Pork Burgers
  2. Gently toast the fennel seeds in a small dry skillet until aromatic, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, garlic, fennel seeds, salt and smoked paprika, stirring to combine.
  4. Add the pork and bacon, tossing gently until the seasonings are well incorporated, but taking care not to overwork the meat.
  5. Divide the seasoned pork into four portions and shape into patties.
  6. Place the patties onto a plate or platter and chill for at least one hour.
  7. Light a grill and cook the burgers: 6 minutes over the hot side of the grill, rotating them after the first 3 minutes, then flipping them and cooking them for another 3 minutes on the hot side before moving them to the cool side of the grill for the final 3 minutes.
  8. Remove the burgers from the grill and allow them to rest briefly, tented with foil, before serving.
  9. Place the burgers on toasted or lightly grilled buns and top each one with a little of the fennel and cabbage slaw.
  1. Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw
  2. Combine the vinegars, dijon and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until the salt is dissolved.
  3. Add the oil and whisk until the dressing is emulsified.
  4. Place the shredded fennel and cabbage in the bowl on top of the dressing, and toss to combine.
  5. Add the fennel fronds and toss again just before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • FrozenFoodie
  • Nora
  • artfulgourmet
  • LadyDiTejas

26 Reviews

theresa94010 December 14, 2012
Would you recommend that we let the slaw sit for a few hours or even overnight before serving to allow the cabbage to soften some and mellow? Or not ?
Stacy_ December 14, 2012
I would not let the sit for very long, I like the slaw crunchy and with a nice tang. I think it a nice compliment to the sweet smokiness of the pork and paprika.
FrozenFoodie July 24, 2012
This was great. Like a big chorizo burger. Thanks!!
Stacy_ May 26, 2012
These are fantastic, the only adjustment that I make is cutting the pork in half and adding bison. I find that is makes for juicier burger.
Nora March 10, 2011
How did this pop up today, when it was posted a year ago? I don't know, but I'm so glad! I won't be able to make these until Sunday or Monday, but I can taste them now. All my favorite flavors.
DAVILCHICK February 26, 2011
I know I'm late to this party but I just got back from a biz trip in Charlotte where I had a pork burger for the first time at the Harvest Moon Grille and needed to have one again. Natch I turned to food52 and there it was. My hubby made it and we were ALL swooning over this. So incredibly yummy we're serving it next time we have people over. So delish...I can definitely see me needing this at least twice a month. It's addicting. The slaw - out of this world. What an amazing combo of flavors. We had it on english muffins and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. THANK YOU!!!
artfulgourmet February 3, 2011
now THESE babies look delicious! especially like the idea of a cool, crunchy slaw with some spicy and salty pork - next on my list of things to make!
LadyDiTejas July 20, 2010
We made these for Sunday dinner - delicious! My husband ground the pork & bacon fresh, and although he used the KitchenAid grinder, he too froze the bacon a bit to make it go easier..
Heather B. July 13, 2010
We had these burgers for dinner tonight. They were delicious. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks!!
lastnightsdinner July 14, 2010
Thank you - I'm so glad you liked them!
Wendy F. June 5, 2010
My husband and I made these tonight. We ground our own pork. It was so very good. We tried fennel for the first time and loved it.

lastnightsdinner June 5, 2010
Thank you, and I am so glad you liked the burgers and slaw! And I love that you ground your own - something we want to do more of now that we have the setup :)
CuriousH May 31, 2010
Made these burgers for a BBQ yesterday and the were the STAR of the show. So delicious, flavorful, fragrant and fun to make. Thank you for this recipe - I'm tempted to make them again tonight...
lastnightsdinner May 31, 2010
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked them!
Marcella May 26, 2010
Thanks for these 2 great recipes - excellent flavor combination for the burgers. I really liked the slaw alongside. I added a julienned gala apple with your other ingredients for bit of a sweet twist and liked it that way too.
lastnightsdinner May 27, 2010
Marcella - that sounds like a delicious addition, and I'm so glad you liked the burgers and slaw. Thank you!
bonnie59 February 16, 2010
I made these for supper this evening and they were delicious! I even scraped off the foot of snow on the bbq to grill them!
lastnightsdinner February 17, 2010
Wow, that's commitment! I'm so glad you liked these :)
lacerise January 11, 2010
forgot to send my comment after we made your recipe. it was terrific! thank you.
lastnightsdinner January 12, 2010
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
AntoniaJames December 5, 2009
I can't wait to make this one. My in-laws are from the deep South, where slaw is practically its own food group, i.e., one of those things that must be eaten every day!!. Fennel is one of my absolute favorite veggies, but I've never thought of putting it in slaw! The pork burgers look yummy, too. I plan to make this tomorrow. Thank you for creating and posting this recipe!!!
lastnightsdinner December 5, 2009
Thank you, and I hope you like them!
lastnightsdinner October 20, 2009
Thanks - I'm so glad you liked them!
likestocooklovestoeat October 20, 2009
These were excellent - we froze the bacon to make it easier to dice. So tasty!
likestocooklovestoeat October 20, 2009
These were excellent - we froze the bacon to make it easier to dice. So tasty!
likestocooklovestoeat October 20, 2009
These were excellent - we froze the bacon to make it easier to dice. So tasty!