The Burger Lab

Burger recipes and cooking tips from J. Kenji López-Alt.

The Burger Lab's Toppings Week 2013: Hot and Smoky Cheeseburgers with Bacon and Pickled Cherry Pepper Relish

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

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It took the Shake Shack years before it introduced a second burger on its menu aside from its signature Shackburger. When it hit the boards, the Smoke Shack was a near instant hit (we sure loved it). It took the signature well-seared Shake Shack patty and paired it with crisp bacon and a sweet-hot pickled pepper relish.

It's a flavor combination worth repeating as often as possible, so I decided to take my own spin on it to the backyard burger.

The basic flavors are the same—burger, relish, bacon—but I found that a plain old cherry pepper relish with sliced bacon on top didn't quite match up to the more robust flavors of a thicker, grilled burger the way it did for the smaller griddled Shack burgers. To up the flavor, I instead used a bacon and cherry pepper relish I initially developed as a pizza topping. The smoky bacon flavor is built right into the relish, so it coats the burger more evenly.

Other than that, things are fairly standard here—crisp bacon slices (which I pre-cook in the oven—you can also use fatter slab bacon and slow-cook it on the grill before you start grilling your burgers), sliced American cheese (cheddar would also work here), and a fat slice of grilled onion, just to make the whole thing healthy.

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Hot and Smoky Cheeseburgers with Bacon and Pickled Cherry Pepper Relish »

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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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