• A Real Barbecue Burger

    bbq7Here at the farm, we don’t tend to get overly exercised about all the silliness in the world of food marketing. Trends come and go, health claims are made (and debunked) and everything ends up “super” or “mega” or “free” of something. And normally we just say “meh”, and go back to cooking.

    bbq1bbqBut recently I saw an ad for a “Big Barbecue Burger” that was just a big burger (cooked on a flat top) with onion rings and some barbecue sauce. And that got me thinking, “there is barely anything ‘barbecue’ about that burger except the sauce….that’s kinda lame”. And then I decided that we needed to make a real barbecue burger. Happily, we had an easy solution.

    bbq2bbq3To have a real “Barbecue Burger” you need to have some real barbecue. And since we just pulled pork for Memorial Day, we had leftovers. Normally we crisp up the leftovers for tacos (so good, and worth a future post), but why not put the pork on a grilled burger? And why not add some cheddar cheese, bacon, sautéed onion, real barbecue sauce and serve it all on a buttered and toasted bun?

    bbq5Why not, indeed. Let us be the first to say that if you didn’t have enough motivation to make pulled pork already, serving it on a burger should get you moving. Smokey, salty, sweet, savory, tangy, soft, crunchy and crispy all in the same bite. Close to a perfection. And with such a strong foundation of flavors and textures, you can build on this burger all summer. We certainly will…

    bbq6Real Barbecue Burgers:

    Notes before you start:

    • You do need pulled pork for this dish, but you could also use the meat from barbecued ribs. Also, we haven’t tried adding barbecued brisket to the top of a burger, but it is an experiment we plan to try.

    What You Get: A perfect barbecue burger that actually lives up to its name.

    What you need: Some real barbecue. Go get started…

    How Long? Assuming you already have the barbecue, less than an hour. Time well spent.


    (Serves 4)

    • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of freshly ground chuck
    • 1 pound pulled pork
    • 4-6 slices smoked bacon
    • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
    • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 4 hamburger buns
    • Butter
    • Barbecue sauce (use your favorite)


    1. Prepare your outdoor grill (or grill pan) for high heat cooking.
    2. Form the burgers into four equal patties no more than 1/2 inch thick. Press the center of the burger slightly with your thumb (this keeps the burger flat when cooking). Butter the hamburger buns.
    3. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp and remove from the pan, but keep the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the pan, move the heat to medium-low and cook until browned and soft, about 15 minutes. Season to taste.
    4. Reheat your leftover barbecue in a skillet over medium heat or in the (gasp!) microwave.
    5. When your grill is ready, grill the burgers 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare, seasoning with salt and pepper while cooking. When you flip the burgers add the pulled pork and the grated cheese. When done, remove the burgers from the grill and let then rest for at least five minutes. Meanwhile, toast the buns while the burgers rest.
    6. To assemble the burgers, place the burger on the bottom bun, add the bacon, onions and barbecue sauce. Then top with the bun and serve.


  • Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs

    Memphis-style ribs (with our house-made pickles)

    There are few American foods that elicit more passion than barbecue. Questions like pork vs. beef (even lamb), “wet” vs. “dry”, ribs, butt or brisket, mustard or vinegar in the sauce all make for dozen of varieties of barbecue. Depending on where you are from, passions can run very, very high. Particularly in the American south if you ask for the “wrong” thing in some areas you may get the “around here we serve “real” barbecue and we use…X”.  The only thing most aficionados will agree on is that barbecue may be the perfect summer meal.

    As a Californian, we don’t really have a regional style (unless you count Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip, which is more of a roast), so we get to “pick and choose” a bit. We will cop to a preference for Carolina-style pulled pork– the hot vinegar sauce variety, but mustard-based is good, too. But the kids and many of our friends prefer ribs, and they do take less time, so we make them pretty often. And when we barbecue ribs, we go for Memphis-style.

    Simple ingredients + time = deep flavor.

    “Mop” sauce.

    Put “rub” on the ribs and let “marinate” for 6-48 hours.

    If you are unfamiliar with Memphis style ribs, they are ribs prepared using a dry spice rub and a vinegar-based “mop” during smoking. Unlike ribs from St. Louis or Mississippi / Alabama that feature a sweet, “wet” sauce, Memphis-style ribs develop a nice dry, spicy “bark” and a very light glaze from the “mop”. Sauce is usually tangy and served on the side, although like all barbecue, opinions on sauce vary. You can use either baby-back ribs or St. Louis-cut ribs (middle of the ribcage) and get good results. Memphis-style ribs are more like pulled pork than most ribs. Good stuff. Really good.

    Get your charcoal ready.

    Let gray ash form on the coals and you are ready.

    And relatively easy to make. One of the misconceptions about making barbecue is that it is difficult. In fact, it’s easy, and requires relatively few ingredients. But the main ingredient you need is time, and there is no substitute. It isn’t an accident that barbecue mostly gets made, and consumed, on weekends. If you need an excuse to laze about with friends for an afternoon (perhaps with a beer or cocktail), making ribs will certainly do the trick.

    Add liquid to a drip pan- the extra moisture helps in smoking.

    Smoke your ribs until internal temp reaches 185 degrees.

    The steps are pretty basic. Get some baby-back or St. Louis-style ribs. Make or buy spice rub (recipe here and below) and rub into the ribs and let them rest in the fridge for at least 6 and up to 48 hours. Soak some wood chips or chunks- we like a mix of hickory and fruit woods like apple or cherry. Get you smoker or grill ready at a temperature about 210 degrees (follow the instructions for your grill or smoker). Set up your smoker with a drip pan, and it helps to put some liquid like beer or apple juice in the drip pan, and then start smoking the ribs. Meanwhile make the “mop” with some vinegar, salt, apple juice and a touch of your dry rub. Liberally “mop” the ribs with the sauce every 30 minutes or so.

    Brush ribs every 30 minutes with “mop” sauce.

    Rest for 20-30 minutes and then slice the ribs.

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