burgers with aged cheddar + homemade tomato jam

In addition to starting with the best quality meat, the key to making a good burger is to put it on the grill and leave it alone. Resist any and all temptation to move it around or press it down against the grates. Put it on the grill and wait for the bottom to get a nice crust on it. When it does, the burger will be ready to flip. Topped with melted cheese and a dollop of this mustardy-based tomato jam, it’s pure burger bliss.

Tomato Jam
4 medium Roma tomatoes, finely diced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (up to 1/4 teaspoon)

2 pounds ground beef
6 ounces aged sharp cheddar, sliced
6 small sourdough hamburger rolls, split

  1. Make tomato jam. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, add ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring fairly often to prevent jam from sticking to bottom of pan. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat grill to medium heat. 
  3. Loosely form ground beef into 6 burgers, taking care not to overwork meat. Using your thumb, create a small indention in middle of each burger (this allows them to cook evenly and helps them keep their shape while they cook) and season indented side of each burger with salt and pepper.
  4. Place burgers on grill, indented sides down, and allow them to cook, without touching or flattening them, for 4-5 minutes on one side. When burgers release easily from grill, flip and continue cooking until almost done, another 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Top each burger with equal amounts of cheese, close grill, and cook until cheese melts, another 1-2 minutes. Remove burgers and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
  6. Place rolls cut side down on grill and cook until grill marks form, 1-2 minutes. Remove rolls and place on individual plates or a large serving platter. Place burgers on bottom of each roll, top with some tomato jam, and serve.

cook’s note: Roma tomatoes are the best choice for this recipe because they aren’t overly juicy and they keep their shape in the jam. Other varieties of tomatoes will work but produce a lot more juice. If you are not using Romas, get the jam nice and thick and strain it. The finer you dice the tomatoes for the jam, the smoother it will be. Leftover jam makes a great condiment for sandwiches—especially grilled cheese—or serve it over a piece of fresh fish. It will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. 

Makes 6 burgers.

cook’s note: Double the batch of tomato jam and add to a grilled cheese sandwich!

This recipe is from The Coastal Table cookbook by Union Park Press


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