In New England, August comes with cookouts, beer, and end-of-summer family fun. There may be no better way to send off the season than to grill against the backdrop of the setting August sun. Lucky for you, Karen Covey has the perfect spin a backyard classic—her gourmet burgers with aged cheddar + tomato jam from her new cookbook The Coastal Table—to set your barbecue apart from the rest.
The Coastal Table: Recipes Inspired by the Farmlands and Seaside of Southern New England highlights the epicurean heritage of the region and adds its own fresh, simple twist on traditional fare. Covey takes cues from local culinary history and agriculture in order to create her own innovative dishes for casual beach days, sophisticated outdoor dining, and—of course!—grilling with family and friends in the backyard.
Covey calls this creation “burger bliss”: the mustardy tomato jam and aged cheddar are a match made in cookout heaven atop these delicious burgers. Need a tip? Simply place the patties on a hot grill and resist the urge to press the meat down against the grates. Trust us, the meat will cook beautifully on its own, and your only responsibility will be flipping the burgers over once. Happy grilling!
- 4 medium Roma tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
- 2 pounds ground beef (80-85 percent)
- 6 ounces aged, sharp cheddar, sliced
- 6 small sourdough hamburger rolls, split
Make tomato jam. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, add ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring fairly often to prevent jam from sticking to bottom of pan. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Loosely form ground beef into 6 burgers, taking care not to overwork meat. Using your thumb, create a small indentation in middle of each patty (this allows them to cook evenly and helps them keep their shape while they cook) and season indented side of each burger with salt and pepper.
Place burgers on grill, indented sides down, and allow them to cook, without touching or flattening them, for 4-5 minutes on one side. When burger releases easily from grill, flip burgers and cook until almost done, another 2-3 minutes.
Top each burger with equal amounts of cheese and cook until cheese melts, another 1-2 minutes. Remove burgers and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
Place rolls, cut side down, on grill and cook until grill marks just form, 1-2 minutes. Remove rolls and place on individual serving plates or a large serving platter. Place burgers on bottom of each roll, top each with some tomato jam, and serve.
Makes 6 burgers
Cook’s note: Roma tomatoes are the best tomatoes to use for this recipe because they aren’t overly juicy and they keep their shape in the jam. Other varieties of tomatoes will work, but they will produce a lot more juice. If you are not using Romas, get the jam nice and thick and strain it. The finer you dice the tomatoes for the jam, the smoother it will be. Leftover jam makes a great condiment for sandwiches, especially grilled cheese, or served simply over a piece of fresh fish. You can make it 3 days in advance, and it will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
The Coastal Table is now available in bookstores near you! (And if you haven’t found it yet, let your local indie and Barnes & Noble know that you’re looking for it.) If you prefer to shop online, you can also purchase this beautiful idea- and recipe-filled book through our website, Amazon, and BN.com.
Covey is a personal chef, food writer, and recipe developer. She is the creator of Gourmet Recipes for One, and her articles and recipes have appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, edible South Shore, Whole Foods Market magazine, and on the website Local in Season.