suzanne goin's pork burgers

suzanne goin's pork burgers

goin's insane pork burgers.jpg
grillin on the patio.jpg

It’s mainly because of the boring requirements like having a job and paying the bills, which I hear come standard this otherwise very lovely season of adulthood, that I now think of Thanksgiving not as a holiday but as “free time off of work” to take a vacation. The PTO struggle in the United States is real, for one, and who doesn’t like spending quality time with their boo seeing and doing new things without feeling the need to check their email? Aside from that I’ve grown increasingly wary of the whole notion of tradition with age. Not necessarily in a contentious way, I just want to always be checking in with myself about my intentions for how I’m living life. Add to that the nauseating colonialist origins of a holiday touted as one being about gratitude, when in reality it’s about capitalism and gluttony, and eh, you’ve lost me. So vacations during Thanksgiving it is. At least that’s the way Cos and I have done it so far.   

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Except this year. It just didn’t make sense after such an eventful fall, which is to say, I haven’t even started ‘thank you’ notes for our wedding gifts yet. Oops. We did manage to sneak out of town to Yosemite for a night, but everything was decided last minute and by the time we decided to stick around for Thanksgiving Day we were the only ones without plans. Forcing a full-out traditional holiday meal just for the two of us sounded stressful and pointless. Instead, we had a Thanksgrillin’ with one awesome guest, and it turned out to be everything a Thanksgiving has ever claimed to be – a celebration of family and community (hi Jasmin!) with way the hell too much food and just enough wine – but without any of the expectations that tradition tends to impose upon the day. 


To my own surprise I never stressed myself out once and had a blast cooking up a storm for days about it. The spread included cheese straws and sriracha-roasted nuts as starters, icebox cake to finish, with a main course of a punchy green bean salad and those decadent Brussels sprouts I love so much as the sides to the obvious star of the show, these loud and luscious pork burgers.

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These burgers are all out. They take everything you know about the flavor of a burger to the tip tippiest top of your taste buds' imagination and then elevate it even more. The combination of ground pork, chorizo, and bacon that make up the patty is already not for the faint of heart. Then that gets layered with cheese and not one but two specially made sauces. One is a homemade mayonnaise, which I’ll admit, gave me the most trouble of anything I made, though I’ve made the very same recipe successfully in the past more than once. (More about this in the recipe notes.) The other is a romesco sauce, the very one I’ve professed my love for already (though we held back on oil this time, also in the notes). After all that throw some arugula on top for a peppery green crunch and do your best to keep it between the two buns as you devour it, because devour it you will. Then you give thanks for the work of art that is this burger. Amen.

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Note on photos: The only one of these photos I took myself is the one directly beneath the heading. The rest were taken by *guest photographer* Cos Cosington Cosgrove. Thanks, husband! 


A few photos from our two days in Yosemite. Views of Half Dome from Glacier Point up top and our hike at Vernal Falls at the bottom. 


Pork Burgers, adapted from Suzanne Goin (via Food52)

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or 2 teaspoons ground cumin)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 chiles de arbol, thinly sliced on the bias (or 1 finely minced red jalapeno, or any medium-hot small red or green pepper)
2 pounds ground pork
1/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed
3 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 slices Manchego cheese
6 brioche buns or other good burger buns (we used Kaiser rolls) 
Aioli (recipe follows)
Romesco (recipe follows)
2 ounces arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toast Seeds. (If using) In a small to medium sauté pan, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat a few minutes until the seeds release their aroma and darken just a little. Transfer seeds to a mortar or spice grinder and pound until coarsely ground. (Skip if using ground cumin.)

Prepare Aromatics. Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat and wait 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and shallots. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for a few minutes, stirring once or twice, until the shallots start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, cumin and sliced chile pepper. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black peppery, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots become translucent. Set aside to cool.

Mix and Form Burgers. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the ground pork, chorizo, bacon, shallot mixture, and parsley, being careful not to overmix the meat. Season with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Shape the meat into six 6-ounce patties. Chill in the refrigerator if not using right away.

Grill Burgers. Light the grill about 30 minutes before cooking and remove pork burgers from the refrigerator to come to room temperature (if you made them in advance). 

Goin cooking instructions: When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, place the pork burgers on the grill and cook them 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until they're nicely browned. Turn the burgers over, and place a piece of cheese on each one. Cook another 3 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked through. It should still be slightly pink in the center. 

My cooking instructions: Here's where the newness of my grill and particulars of my taste come into play. This was the first time we used our grill - we had just purchased it to use on this day - and it took a long time to get it going, longer than half an hour. Then we cooked the patties for much longer, until they were well done. I don't like pink looking pork (or really even beef because I've had a bad run with food-borne illness, though Cos takes his beef burgers medium-rare and the original cook time would've been about right for that). My vote is cook them for 5 or 6 minutes on one side, flip them over to cook for a couple minutes and then test with a meat thermometer or by making a little incision into one to check doneness. Then once you feel like they'll only be on the grill for a few minutes longer, lay the cheese on top to melt. 

Slice the buns in half and toast them on the grill, cut side down, for a a few minutes, until they're lightly browned.

Assemble Burgers. Spread both sides of the buns and the aioli. Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun, and dollop with a generous amount of romesco. Place some arugula leaves on top, and finish with the top half of the bun.


1. Aioli - as mentioned above, mine didn't turn out on the day (never emulsified), but I've made this recipe successfully in the past. Honestly dressing up some regular mayo with a squeeze of lemon juice and a minced clove of garlic is just as well. There is so so much already going on with this burger. You won't be relying on the mayo to make it what it is. This burger is greater than the sum of it's parts. However, if you choose to make your own mayo, and I certainly don't blame you for it, use this recipe. It's a little thicker with a better yolk to oil ratio in my opinion. 

2. Romesco - I used my go-to favorite recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, but add only 1/2 cup of oil at the end, left out the splash of sherry vinegar, but did squeeze in some lemon juice from about half a small lemon while making the final seasoning adjustments at the end.

3. Type of buns - I initially fretted over not being able to find brioche buns at any one of the 5 stores I visited to gather ingredients but we had these on the best looking buns we could get our hands on the day before Thanksgiving, which happened to be kaiser buns, and we regretted nothing. Don't sweat it, just get a bag of nice buns and keep it moving. 

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