Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Burgers with Irish Whiskey Onions & Cheddar

Get out that green shirt and the Kiss Me I'm Irish Today button because we're getting ready to celebrate one of the most hallowed days on the Burp! calendar -- St. Patrick's Day.

In some ways, we're all about (Irish-American) tradition. St. Patrick's Day is the perfect time to pull out all the stops when it comes to dinner. First, you need a slab of Corned Beef Brisket, accompanied by some delicious cabbage and a pile of potatoes (boiled, roasted, or smashed). A nice Irish Stout is usually the beverage of choice. And it would be a shame to end our St. Patrick's Day feast without a slice or two of Irish Whiskey Cake.

But, we also find ourselves longing to change things up a little bit every  now and again.  And that's when we come up with delicious experiments like Cheesy Colcannon with Leeks and Reuben Risotto.

This year, our imaginations got the best of us.  Peef was craving burgers.  And he'd read something somewhere about braising onions in Irish Whiskey.  Needless to say, we decided it sounded like a pretty winning combination.  So, we got to work.

First, it only seemed right that an Irish burger, similar to a Reuben, would be served on rye bread. So, we mixed up a batch of our favorite focaccia dough (yeah, yeah, I know -- Italian dough for an Irish sandwich...) -- only we subbed out all of the all-purpose flour with rye flour.  And we kneaded a small handful of caraway seeds into the dough.

While the bread baked, I set to work caramelizing a nice big batch of onions. When the onions were just about finished, I swirled in a nice splash of Power's Irish Whiskey, which functioned to deglaze the pan and impart a nice, smooth malty flavor to the sweet onions.

Since I figured it wouldn't hurt to tie in a little bit of "corned beef" action, I also hauled out some classic corning spices like juniper berries, allspice, mustard, coriander and cinnamon and ground them up in our spice grinder. These got mixed in with the better part of pound of fresh ground beef.  We grilled the burgers to medium-rare on our stove-top grill pan and then topped them with slices of Irish Dubliner cheese, cooking them just long enough for the cheese to melt & begin drooping down the sides.

By the time the focaccia was finished baking, we were both drooling like maniacs. Almost didn't get pictures of the burgers, we were so hungry...

And so, I present:  The Irish Burger.  This deliciously spiced grass-fed ground beef burger sits atop a slice of sourdough rye foccaccia. It's enrobed with the slightly sweet, nutty tang of the cheese and topped off with the impeccably sweet and flavorful Irish Whiskey-infused onions.
Messy to eat, but extremely satisfying, these burgers were a perfectly unconventional way to begin our pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Irish Burgers with Whiskey-Caramelized Onions
Sourdough Rye Focaccia

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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.


  1. OMG, yum!! This looks awesome, and Nate will love it. So where does one get dried juniper berries? Spice House?

  2. *Ground juniper berries, that is!

  3. I would imagine you could just get the whole ones at Spice House and grind them?

    Also, keep an eye out at Brennan's for the Irish cheddar - we got one a few years back that was mind-boggling.

    I can't wait to try making this burger!

  4. Nicole - We buy our juniper berries from either Spice House or Penzey's. I grind them myself in a coffee grinder... you could also use a pepper grinder, I think.

  5. Just give us a fork for the onions. Yum. Great inspired burger for the holiday!

  6. Oh. Dear. Lord. I was hanging on every word. My Irish-born-non-Irish-eater Paul would even devour this. I think the sign of a fabulous burger is how messy it is - the messier the better! WANT.

  7. Cheddar and caramelized onions are always yummy together. Love the whisky addition and now I want that burger in the worst way!

  8. I've always loved your crazy fun takes on Irish recipes but this one takes the cake. i mean...the burger. Those caramelized onions must have been to die for!

  9. There is no way I could ever say no to caramelized onions! I once caramelized them in Scotch whiskey for a soup topping! The burger looks great guys!

  10. I am damn lucky my hubby didn't see that burger otherwise I would be making him one right now. That might be ok IF we the whiskey and it wasn't nearly midnight.

    Seriously, I have never witnessed a more beautiful dish of onions.

    Hope you had a great St Patty's Day!

  11. I am totally bookmarking this one for Matt, he'll love it!

  12. Nice Recipe!Thats very Healthy.


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