Building a better burger

Alabama Living Magazine

Our Cook of the Month winning recipe, HP Burger, combines the tastes of sweet pineapple, crunchy bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce to top off an exceptional burger.

Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols

Cook of the Month: Hannah Pugh, Black Warrior EMC

Hannah Pugh invented her winning recipe “HP Burger” while working at her family’s restaurant, Mike’s Country Kitchen in Pine Hill in Wilcox County, where she’s been co-owner the past five years. The combination of sweet pineapple, crunchy bacon, and American cheese, topped with barbecue sauce (she prefers Sweet Baby Ray’s brand) has proven to be very popular with diners, especially linemen from Black Warrior EMC. She enjoys coming up with her own recipes like the burger, which is named, appropriately, with her initials. “I have always enjoyed coming up with new creations for the weekly specials,” she says. The secret to a good burger? Hannah says it’s the flat top grill they use at the restaurant. “There’s something about cooking it on a flat top, the grease drains off better. We use fresh, 80/20 ground beef and we hand-patty our burgers every day.” At the restaurant, she works alongside her parents, Mike and June Rush, and her sister Elizabeth Bender. They have a weekly hot bar in addition to daily specials. Hannah also makes her own Boudreaux sauce, a Cajun-inspired sauce she says is “like a ‘comeback sauce,’ but a little different. I’d like to try selling it one day.”

HP Burger 

  • 6 6-ounce all-beef burger patties
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple slices 
  • 6 slices white American cheese 
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked 
  • BBQ sauce, your choice
  • Mayonnaise 
  • 6 hamburger buns 

Grill hamburger patties to well done. Grill pineapple slices to your preference and toast bun. Spread mayonnaise on the bottom bun, place patty, cheese, bacon (2 slices per burger) and pineapple. Top with BBQ sauce of choice and toasted bun. 

Black Bean Feta Burgers

  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

Mash the black beans with the egg and feta cheese in a bowl. Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and breadcrumbs. Form into 4 even patties. Spray an air fryer basket with olive oil. Put the burgers in the basket in a single layer. Air fry at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings on your favorite kind of toasted rolls. If you don’t have an air fryer, cook them in an oiled skillet for 5 minutes per side. 

Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC

Sloppy Joes

  • 1½ pounds hamburger meat
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, or more to your liking
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon vinegar, optional (see below)

Brown the hamburger meat, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add the soup, mustard, spices and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve with toasted hamburger buns. Add the brown sugar and vinegar if you prefer a sweeter meat sauce.

Nancy Sites Sizemore, Baldwin EMC

Grandma’s Burgers

  • Ground beef, amount for as many burgers as you want to serve
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg per pound of beef
  • Mustard, to preference
  • Ketchup, more than mustard
  • Mix all ingredients together and patty out the meat; cook in an iron skillet. 

Beth McLarty, Cullman EC

Mushroom Burgers

  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour or more as needed to shape patties
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable, canola, or oil of choice for frying

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and shape into thick patties (this makes 4 to 6 burgers.) Cook all burgers once shaped; the leftover mix does not refrigerate well but the cooked patties do. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add burgers; cook until crisp and lightly browned, 3-4 minutes on each side. Best on whole wheat or sesame seed buns with fresh lettuce and other toppings of choice

TJ Ferrara, Central Alabama EC

Southwest Turkey Burgers

  • 2 pounds ground turkey 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Store-made guacamole
  • Hamburger buns

Preheat a skillet or griddle to medium high heat. Place first 5 ingredients in large bowl and mix together. Form into 8 burgers and drizzle olive oil in skillet or griddle. When oil is shimmery, place burgers in pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until middle is no longer pink. Place cooked patties on hamburger buns and top with guacamole. 

Rebecca McGuire, Cullman EC

The Buttered Home

Sheet Pan Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders will change the way you do burgers! Neat and tidy in a small package, layers of meat and cheese capped off with crispy bacon will quickly become your favorite no-frills, no-grill recipe!  

Photo by The Buttered Home

Sheet Pan Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons Southern Flavor seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 10 to 12 strips of uncooked bacon
  • 12 slices of cheese (I use Havarti, pepper jack and cheddar)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 12 pack of large dinner rolls or slider buns
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Lettuce, tomato, pickles or whatever burger toppings you desire

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix ground beef, salt, pepper, Southern Flavor seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Mix well with hands. Divide mixture into two equal parts.

Press one half of beef mixture onto a lightly greased sheet pan. Place cheese on top in any pattern you desire. Next, press the last half of the beef mixture into another layer on top.

Top with strips of uncooked bacon, tucking ends underneath meat. Bake for 30-40 minutes until it reaches your desired level of doneness. (Pictured is 30 minutes for me.) Make sure bacon is done and crispy on top. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Mix mustard, mayo and horseradish until smooth and creamy. Cut rolls, if not already pre-cut, in the middle to form two halves. Spread sauce on top and bottom. Using two large spatulas, carefully place meat patty on top and place top bun on. Using a large knife, follow the lines of the rolls and cut accordingly. Top with your favorite cheeseburger toppings and enjoy!


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