Finding Burgatory [Bison-Apple Burgers with Sage-Jalapeno Pesto & Smoked Blue Cheese]

Brace yourselves. I’m about to share something with you that I don’t divulge often. It’s something that is usually met with double-looks and wide eyes. Some conclude I’m crazy, others simply write me off as a friend. Are you ready for this? 

I don’t really love burgers.  [….I’ll wait for your eyes to return to normal size.]

Are we good? I hope so. 

I just…don’t. They are big and awkward, messy and fall-aparty. Too many restaurants serve them with buns that are rock hard, causing the patty and toppings to spill out the back end. The same can be said for patties that are flavourless, over-cooked and resemble softballs made of ground beef. Unappetizing at the best of times. (It should be said that I have not visited Black Cat Bistro for Burger Tuesdays OR Absinthe Café for their Benevolence Burger….yet).

Upon finding some beautiful ground bison from La Maison Du Gibier, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. My goal, to make a burger that fulfilled my needs. A patty as flavourful as it is moist, seasoned properly, seared to a perfect crust on the outside but slightly pink in the center. A thin bun that is buttery and soft, with a good crunch when toasted. Toppings that compliment but don’t overpower the meat or fall out the second you touch the burger. All very simple needs, but they seem to be lacking from so many burgers these days. 

I was entirely happy with the way the burger came out. The recipe came together quickly and with ease. The perfect weeknight burger, to be sure.  The apples gave the bison a slightly sweet kick, while the pesto and smoked blue cheese gave it that bit of extra depth and saltiness needed to take it over the top. A successful experiment in my burger diaries. 

If you have an aversion to burgers as I do, perhaps even if you don’t, you must give this burger a chance. It might be just the ticket you need to find your burgatory. 

Bison-Apple Burgers with Sage-Jalapeno Pesto & Smoked Blue Cheese
serves 4

Note on Bison:
Finding a quality bison is half the battle here. Choose a locally sourced meat from a butcher or market you trust. 

Note on buns:
I used some thin and butter onion buns from Rideau Bakery. I like a thin bun that’s soft, but use whatever you like best. Brioche buns would be delicious, too.

Note on cheese:
If you can’t find smoked blue cheese (often referred to as ‘Blue Haze’), a Danish blue cheese will work well, too. 

2 lbs ground bison meat
2 small apples (1 large), peeled
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 tsp sea salt 
fresh ground pepper 

1 jalapeno, seeded, rough chopped
1 cup fresh sage, loosely packed 
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper

To Serve:
Sliced tomatoes
Smoked Blue Cheese

For the Pesto:
Place everything but the Parmesan, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in the Parmesan, a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. 

For the Burgers: 
Grate the apples into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Use your hands to smoosh everything together until it’s just combined (try not to overmix). Form the meat into 4-5 patties and make a small indentation in the center (this helps the burger cook evenly). Sprinkle the patties with a bit more salt right before frying.

Lightly coat a cast iron pan in vegetable or canola oil and heat over med-high until oil is shimmering. Place patties in the pan, 2 at a time, for 2 minutes on each side. They should be beautifully golden when you flip them. 

Toast up your buns, place a patty on each and top with a slather of the pesto, a few crumbles of blue cheese and a slice of ripe tomato. Serve with an ice cold wheat beer like Erdinger. 

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