Yield: 4 servings
I know, I know…you’re scared. You have every right to be. I don’t know how to help you past your fear besides to say: TRY THIS BURGER. It’s salty, sweet, tangy, peppery, buttery, spicy, but all in the right amount, with no flavor overpowering the others. I like to grate a little frozen butter and mix it in with the beef when I make burgers; it helps to keep the meat juicy, especially if you don’t have access to high-quality ground beef or grind it yourself. Thinly slicing and “marinating” the jalapenos in agave nectar helps to mellow the spiciness and adds a nice sweetness to the final product.
1-1/3 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons butter, frozen
4 slices pancetta, thickly sliced
4 brioche buns
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup loosely packed arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces blueberry goat cheese*
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons agave nectar
*Blueberry goat cheese is a log of goat cheese rolled in dried blueberries. Trader Joe’s sells a high-quality blueberry-vanilla goat cheese, which is what I used. You can make your own by purchasing dried blueberries and rolling your log of goat cheese in them to coat.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the pancetta slices on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. The goal is to keep the pancetta from curling; ensuring you use thick-sliced pancetta will help with this but you may have to place on a wire cooling rack to bake or place another cookie sheet on top of the pancetta to keep it in shape. Or you can just deal with not having perfectly round pancetta slices after baked, because ultimately, it doesn’t really matter! Spread a very thin layer of mayonnaise on each side of the buns and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until light golden brown and slightly crisp.
Place the jalapenos and agave nectar in a small bowl and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill over medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Grate the butter with a box or hand grater and mix gently into the beef. Portion the beef into four 1/3-pound patties just slightly larger than your buns and generously season each side with salt and pepper. Don’t overmix your meat! Allow to rest while your pan heats. When ready to cook, place the patties on your grill pan and cook for approximately 4 to 7 minutes per side, or until the burgers reach your desired doneness. Add about 1/4 cup of the goat cheese to each burger and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the bottom bun and place a small handful of arugula on top. Place the pancetta slice and add the rested burger. Arrange a scattering of jalapenos on top.