Tennessee Whiskey Burger
A few years back, I had the chance to eat at a well-reviewed local restaurant. One of this restaurant's more popular dishes was their version of the Tennessee Whiskey Burger. Although their burger was well-rated and I did not find it bad, I was disappointed by the use of Worcestershire sauce. This ingredient gave the meat a flavor that I thought was more reminiscent of Northern dishes than anything authentically Southern.
Shortly after that experience, I decided to try my own hand at creating this burger. My twist on this dish incorporates bacon drippings and does not use any Worcestershire sauce. My husband has been very pleased with my recipe, and I have to admit I like it better than what the restaurant had to offer. We usually have these burgers during temperate weather when they can be cooked over a charcoal grill. But when colder weather makes grilling inconvenient, the burgers can still be fried on a stove top skillet.
This recipe makes for a hearty main course.
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- 3 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 1/4 cups genuine Tennessee whiskey, (66-to-80 proof)
- 1 clove garlic, finely cut and slightly pressed
- 1 teaspoon powdered black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon brown vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, warmed
- Pat the ground beef into firm patties. Set on clean plate(s) and place in refrigerator.
- Make the whiskey marinade: In a medium-sized bowl combine the whiskey and chopped garlic. Stir slowly for about 3 minutes. Add the pepper, salt, vinegar or lemon juice, and the bacon drippings. Stir all ingredients slowly for about 3 more minutes.
- Take the patties from refrigerator and get out a long baking dish. Dunk each patty, both sides, in the marinade. Place each patty in the baking dish. When all patties are in the dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Allow the burger patties to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Get your grill (or skillet) hot. Remove the plastic from the dish of patties. Lift each one from dish, being sure to avoid excess drip. Carefully arrange the patties on your heated surface. Grill (or fry) for as long as you would for an ordinary hamburger (approximately 12 to 15 minutes, turning each burger patty over once halfway through the cooking time).
- Remove burger patties from heat onto wax paper. After a minute place the patties onto hamburger or other preferred bun. Add your favorite condiments and vegetables.
- Serve and enjoy.
My favorite addition/topping to the Tennessee Whiskey Burger is caramelized onions.
For those that enjoy cheese on their burgers, I suggest trying smoked cheddar or pepper jack. To add the cheese: Place a thin or medium-thick slice to the top of each burger about 20 seconds before they are removed from the grill.
Substituting ramps (wild leeks) for the garlic
For a true down-home Southern experience, you can substitute ramps (wild leeks) for the garlic in the Tennessee Whiskey Burger marinade. When adding a ramp to marinade be sure to use only the white bulb part of the plant. For this recipe, wash and then prepare one good-sized bulb just as you would the garlic clove.
Heads up warning: Ramps are known to make for very strong oniony breath—so keep your breath mints handy!