Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

For the longest time, the only ground meat I ever bought was turkey. I always substituted in recipes calling for ground beef, and it never bothered us because we really didn’t know what we were missing. A few months ago though, for reasons I can’t remember, I splurged on ground beef and oh man, has it ever been hard to break the habit, especially when it comes to burgers. There’s really no comparison between burgers made with beef and those made with the alternative – in my book, even the most flavorful turkey burger has a hard time competing with a juicy beef burger. With the arrival of summer grilling season on the horizon though, I’m really trying hard to find balance. We make burgers fairly often and I don’t love the idea of eating all that red meat, so slowly but surely I’m moving it back into the “occasional splurge” column :)

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

We have actually made these coffee-rubbed burgers with both ground beef and ground turkey, and both versions were very worthy of a repeat. Between the coffee rub, the bacon and the barbecue sauce, there’s so much flavor packed into this burger that it can easily be made with a leaner meat. Don’t be scared off by the coffee rub either, even if you’re not a coffee drinker. Neither Shane nor I like coffee and though I often like coffee-flavored desserts, Shane wouldn’t dream of eating them, and still the rub was well received. If you’re a spicy food wimp like me I’ll warn you that the barbecue sauce does pack a punch. I found it really spicy on its own (maybe too spicy for me!) but when combined with the other ingredients on the burgers, I really enjoyed it and didn’t find myself running for a glass of water to cool my mouth. If you’re nervous, you could always remove the seeds from the chipotle or reduce the amount of cayenne you use. I’ve tried quite a few new burger recipes in anticipation of summer, and this is one of my favorites – relatively quick and easy and super flavorful no matter which meat you choose!

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce
from Bon Appetit, July 2009

Coffee Rub
1 tablespoon instant coffee (or freshly ground)
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Burgers
8 slices bacon
2 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
8 slices cheese
8 toasted hamburger rolls
red onion, tomato, lettuce, etc.

To make the rub: Stir all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store (covered) at room temperature for up to 1 week.

To make the barbecue sauce: Set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook until melted. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, lime juice, chipotle and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to 1 1/3 cups, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Note: You will almost certainly have leftover barbecue sauce so you might want to plan on incorporating it into other meals the week you make these burgers.)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet set over medium to medium-low heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and, when cool, break each piece in half. Divide the ground beef into 8 equal portions, and shape each into a patty, about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the rub evenly over both sides of each patty, using your fingers to gently spread it evenly. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each patty (this will keep the burgers from puffing and swelling in the center as they cook).

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450 F). Oil the grates lightly (I use the tongs to hold a paper towel that’s been dipped in oil and rub it over the grates). Place the burgers on the grill (the side with the indentation should be facing up) and cook for about 3 minutes, or until grill marks form on the bottom. Flip the burgers and top each one with 2 bacon slice halves (so one full slice total) cook for about 3 more minutes. Top each burger with a slice of cheese and cover the grill, cooking just until the cheese melts and the burgers are cooked to your desired doneness. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with the barbecue sauce, red onion, lettuce, tomato, or your favorite burger toppings.

Makes 8 burgers