The Staycation Burger (a deliciously simple pork burger with options)

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I love a good beef or turkey burger, but this pork variation takes the burger game to a new level. The base recipe is an incredibly easy family favorite. The onion jam adds a gourmet element and tastes like something you may eat while vacationing on a tropical island!

One bite of these easy-to-make patties could make you rethink your usual burger. The base recipe has become regular weeknight fare in our house, and the optional pineapple onion jam offers a restaurant-worthy upgrade. (And don’t miss the clever burger-making tip!)

 

 

 

 

When we think of burgers, the traditional beef patty likely comes to mind. Or possibly a turkey or veggie burger. But a pork burger?

Until recently, I had never made a pork burger. However, I am officially a new fan.

A few months ago, a friend mentioned that one of her family’s favorite meals is her pork burgers. I wanted to know more, of course, so she explained how a few key ingredients provide exceptional flavor. As a bonus, the burgers are incredibly simple to pull off on a busy night or when underwhelmed by the thought of cooking.

She kindly shared the easy recipe, which can be prepared on the stovetop or grill. Some members of her family enjoy a slice of melted cheese on top, and a stroke of flavor genius comes in the form of a two-ingredient barbecue mayo.

Soon after, my friend remembered a pineapple onion jam she enjoyed while on a tropical vacation last year, and decided this would take her pork burgers to new heights.

She entertained me with a series of texts over the next week or so, as she tried to perfect her recipe. I knew how good the burgers were on their own by then, so when she asked for insight on her sixth or seventh attempt, I lightly mentioned that the burgers would truly shine without this finishing touch.

Her reply: “I’m not giving up.” At that moment, I knew she was a woman after my own perfectionist heart…at least where kitchen endeavors were concerned!

The various rounds of testing pitted fresh pineapple against canned, brown sugar versus honey, and red or yellow onion. Over time, she experimented with an element of heat, and debated whether to use cayenne pepper, a minced jalapeño, or a generous dose of fresh black pepper.

Eventually, I found myself making batches of this condiment, too. It became a fun challenge that we chatted about from afar. By this point, of course, giving up was not an option. We were having too much fun!

Ultimately, we found success: a thick, savory-sweet condiment with an optional hint of heat. In the process of churning out multiple batches over time, we discovered that a spoonful of this jam tastes equally delightful on pork, salmon, flatbread, and even a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

Because the process is similar to making caramelized onions, it takes time, but it’s simple and mostly hands-off. You start by cooking down yellow onions (the final color and flavor was deemed preferable to red) and adding some pineapple jam (a shortcut that simply worked better than fresh or canned while making the sugar vs. honey debate a moot point). A spoonful of vinegar, optional jalapeño pepper, salt, pepper, and intermittent stirring over low heat rounds out the list.

With success in hand, it was time for another pork burger dinner. My friend describes this meal as fun, like a meal version of a staycation-a getaway on your plate. Neither of our families had taken our usual summer vacations this year, so we decided to channel the waterfront haven that originally inspired the upgraded burgers.

You may channel your tropical destination of choice, and even call these Aloha burgers if you prefer. But whatever the name, and whether you opt for the jam or not, we thought a tropical cocktail (or juice with a splash of soda) with one of those fun little umbrellas would definitely add to the fun. 🍹

I love a good beef or turkey burger, but this pork variation takes the burger game to a new level. The base recipe is an incredibly easy family favorite. The onion jam adds a gourmet element and tastes like something you may eat while vacationing on a tropical island!

I served this batch of burgers with roasted new potatoes and an arugula salad. A simple slaw, green vegetable, or sweet potato fries offer other worthy options.

Best burger making tip!

The standard deli lid is 4 inches in diameter. A patty pressed to this width or slightly wider will allow for a burger that fills the bun once has shrunk down in the cooking process.

I love a good beef or turkey burger, but this pork variation takes the burger game to a new level. The base recipe is an incredibly easy family favorite. The onion jam adds a gourmet element and tastes like something you may eat while vacationing on a tropical island!

These burgers cook up beautifully on the stovetop but may be grilled if preferred.

I love a good beef or turkey burger, but this pork variation takes the burger game to a new level. The base recipe is an incredibly easy family favorite. The onion jam adds a gourmet element and tastes like something you may eat while vacationing on a tropical island!

The following photos illustrate the various stages when making the Pineapple Onion Jam:

Caramelized onions with a touch of tropical sweetness, a dash of tang, and an optional hint of heat come together in a savory jam that adds a little something special to burgers, pork, salmon, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and more!

A skillet with a 10-inch diameter will provide good space for the onions to cook down. Medium-low heat will allow the onions to cook slowly without browning too fast. This process brings out their natural sweetness.

Caramelized onions with a touch of tropical sweetness, a dash of tang, and an optional hint of heat come together in a savory jam that adds a little something special to burgers, pork, salmon, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and more!

Stir in the jam once the onions start to soften, and then cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes..

Caramelized onions with a touch of tropical sweetness, a dash of tang, and an optional hint of heat come together in a savory jam that adds a little something special to burgers, pork, salmon, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and more!

This is what my onion mixture looked like after the 15 minutes mentioned above. At this point, you may add the vinegar, optional jalapeño, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes, give or take a few, or until the onions are thick and lightly golden.

Caramelized onions with a touch of tropical sweetness, a dash of tang, and an optional hint of heat come together in a savory jam that adds a little something special to burgers, pork, salmon, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and more!

This is what my pineapple onion jam looked like at the end. Your jam may be slightly lighter or darker, depending on the variety of onion, type of pan used, and precise level of heat. But if the excess moisture has cooked off and the mixture is thick, chances are good that it will be delicious!

Staycation Burgers (deliciously simple pork burgers with options)
Yield: 4 burgers
I love a good beef or turkey burger, but this pork variation takes the burger game to a new level. The base recipe is an incredibly easy family favorite. The onion jam adds a gourmet element and tastes like something you may eat while vacationing on a tropical island!
Burger Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns (gluten-free if needed)
BBQ Mayo Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons (34g) BBQ sauce of your choice (homemade or store-bought, like Stubbs)
  • 2 tablespoons (26g) mayonnaise
Pineapple Onion Jam, optional (recipe follows)
Instructions:

For the burgers: Place the pork in a large bowl and sprinkle the onion, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and several pinches of pepper (I use a rounded ¼ teaspoon) overtop. Mix until just incorporated, taking care not to overmix. Shape mixture into 4 flat, circular, patties, about 4-5 inches in diameter. (See burger-making tip in post.)

Lightly coat a 12- to 14-inch skillet with olive oil or cooking spray, and heat over medium high. Cook the burgers about 6 minutes each side, or until cooked through and nicely golden on each side. (Alternatively, burgers may be cooked on a grill.)

For the sauce: While the burgers cook, stir together the BBQ sauce and mayonnaise and toast the buns.

Spread the BBQ mayo on the bottom bun, add the burger, and then top with the jam if using.

Notes, Options & Extras:

For those who enjoy cheese, top the burgers with a slice of cheese (good options include muenster, Gouda, or pepper Jack for a spicy option) with 1-2 minutes left in the cooking process, covering the pan to help the cheese melt.
You may substitute the jam with a fresh slice of pineapple, seared in skillet or on grill if desired.
Or substitute the caramelized onions with raw or simply sautéed onions-even pickled onions. Add fresh jalapeño, lettuce, or another fresh vegetable of your liking
As another option, you may omit the BBQ sauce and use plain mayonnaise instead. You can jazz up the mayo with a pinch of fresh or roasted garlic, and/or a pinch of smoked paprika.
For a low-carb alternative, omit the bun and go for the fork and knife approach. Or enjoy as a lettuce wrap.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Pineapple Onion Jam
Yield: 1+ cup
Caramelized onions with a touch of tropical sweetness, a dash of tang, and an optional hint of heat come together in a savory jam that adds a little something special to burgers, pork, salmon, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and more!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 2 medium (~9-10 ounces each) yellow onion, thinly sliced from root to tip
  • ⅓ cup (106g) pineapple preserves or jam (if you can’t find pineapple preserves*, try apricot or even peach)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced jalapeño (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel pan. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the preserves, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar, optional jalapeño, salt and pepper. (I add a lightly rounded ¼ teaspoon of salt and several hearty grinds of the pepper mill.) Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes, give or take a few, or until the onion mixture is thick and lightly golden. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Once cooled, cover and store in the refrigerator. The jam may be made several days in advance. Briefly warm in the microwave or on the stovetop to loosen.

 

Notes

*Smucker’s makes a good pineapple jam. Locals who shop at Lancaster Central Market can also purchase it from the stand with a large assortment of homemade jams across from The Goodie Shoppe.

Tip: If the onions begin to brown too quickly, you may reduce the heat slightly. The key is for them to become lightly golden over time as the moisture very slowly cooks off. You do want to stir occasionally but allowing the onions to sit untouched for stretches facilitates the caramelization process. The longer the onions cook, the sweeter they become.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

  1. Marci

    Hi Ann… looks like more yummy, mouth-watering recipes to try! Any idea how long the onion/pineapple jam will keep in the fridge?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Marci, Thank you… we adore these! As for the jam, it should keep for a week or so in the refrigerator. I haven’t tried, but caramelized onions freeze very well, so I would be optimistic that this jam would freeze well, too.

      Reply