Ever since burgers became America’s favorite meal, ground beef has been getting all the attention, while ground pork has been patiently waiting for its turn to shine. Although most of us have enjoyed ground pork in the form of sausage or perhaps partnered with beef in meatloaf or meatballs, using it alone in a burger might be a bit unorthodox for many home cooks.
That’s such a shame, as pork makes a juicy burger that, due to its mild flavor, is perhaps even more versatile than beef when it’s placed between two buns.
Yes, beef is the iconic protein when it comes to burgers, but what we love most about it is its, well, for lack of a better term, beefiness. Not that there’s anything wrong with a big, beefy burger, but there’s something to be said for enjoying some subtler flavors, too.
Pork can easily be a vehicle to deliver on any number of flavor options. It combines beautifully with all kinds of ethnic ingredients, opening up a whole new world of burger options. Thai curry, lemongrass and ginger mixed into ground pork are the beginning of a complexly flavored Thai burger. Top with a few slices of cucumbers and maybe a smear of peanut butter, a little tribute to the ever popular Thai peanut sauce, and you have a memorable meal (trust me, people will never forget the day you served them a peanut butter burger).
Ground pork seasoned with smoked paprika and garlic and studded with chopped green olives gives you the makings for a smoky Spanish burger.
And you don’t even have to get that far from home. Simply glaze the pork patty with a little barbecue sauce and top with crispy onions for a barbecue pork burger. Mix a little chopped bacon in with the pork and top with a sautéed slice of pineapple if you want to go on the Hawaiian side.
Or, in the case of this Cheddar Pork Burger with Apple-Mustard Slaw, just mix some fresh sage into the pork, top the patties with a slice of cheese and a healthy spoonful of a quick and easy slaw made with grated Granny Smiths, and serve it all in a toasted bun, and you’ve hit all the major food groups in one bite.
So next time you’re looking for a change in your burger rotation, give pork a chance.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @meredithdeeds.