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jerk-burgerLast weekend I was asked “what’s your specialty?” in reference to what I cook and without hesitation I said it’s not so much a dish or category of food, but technique. As we continue July’s Month Of Grilling, I’m sure you can tell that I quite enjoy working with the raw heat of the grill. The essence of the fire changes the overall dish in such a manner that’s almost impossible to duplicate on a stove or oven. While we’re not using pimento wood to give the burgers that unique “Jamaican Jerk” depth, I assure you that you’ll be amazed by what a simple jerk marinade can do to basic ground beef.

If you follow me on twitter, the ‘I just had the best burger” tweet was this!

You’ll Need…

1 lb ground beef
3 small scallions
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 lemon (juice + zest)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/5 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 Pineapple sliced.

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NOTE: If doing these jerk burgers gluten free, do pay close attention to the list of ingredients… especially the Soy Sauce to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.

Grate the ginger and finely chop the thyme, scallions and scotch bonnet pepper. Be mindful that you can use less of that scotch bonnet pepper if you’re concerned about the raw heat. While jerk is supposed to be spicy, you can also remove the seeds and white membrane surrounding the seeds to help control that heat. BE sure to wash your hands with soap and water after handling such hot peppers.

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Add all the ingredients in a bowl (except the ground beef) and give it a good mix to combine. You may wonder if you can puree this in a blender or food processor, but I prefer to have it chopped instead, so you gets hits of flavor with each bite.

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Reserve a 1/4 of the marinade and pour the rest over the ground beef and mix well. Allow this to marinate for about 15 minutes before making the individual beef patties (makes 4 burgers). Form the burgers and place in the fridge to firm up a bit so they don’t fall apart on the grill. I do NOT use eggs or bread crumbs in my burgers.

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As they firm up in the fridge, peel and slice your pineapple and marinate with the marinade we reserved.

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All you have to do now is brush your HOT grill with veg oil (so the burgers don’t stick) and grill as you’d normally grill your burgers. I placed them over direct heat and had the pineapple slices gently warm through away from the direct heat. BTW, in the image below you’ll notice that I poured the marinade from the pineapple slices over the burgers so it wouldn’t waste.

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I grilled the burgers for about 10-15 minutes, flipping them occasionally. After I moved the burgers, I placed the pineapple slices over the direct heat for about -3-5 minutes to help get the sugars out.

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That natural smoke from the charcoal fire added some of the elements the pimento wood would bring to the jerk game, but you can certainly grill these on a propane grill with much success. The same cane be said for cooking these off indoors in a frying pan or indoor grill plate. The bold flavors from the spices and herbs will be enough to elevate these burgers no matter where or how they are cooked.

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Back to what’s my specialty.. I don’t specialize in BBQ or grilling, but it brings me the most joy. BUT.. I hate that smoke (and sort of greasy feeling) on my face though!