Thinking Outside the Bun

Welcome  If you hear the phrase “Think outside the bun,” you may automatically think of Taco Bell, since they used this slogan in the early part of the 21st century.  They have since changed their slogan, but when it comes to eating burgers, brats, and other summer staples, it’s still not a bad philosophy.  Don’t get me wrong, I can dress up a freshly grilled meat patty pretty well, even if it’s on the 99 cent special burger buns.  That’s right, I like to buy the cheap buns so I can splurge on the other ingredients.  But do we really have to stick with traditional buns?  And for that matter, do we even need to stick with traditional burgers?

Food For Thought  Watching Food Network or the Cooking Channel is a dangerous hobby, but many nights during the week, these are the final stations we watch before heading off to bed.  I bet my husband would like a dollar for every time he’s heard me say, “Now I’m hungry!” during these late hours.  But there is an upside, too.  I launch ideas for many new recipes based off the shows we watch.  I own cookbooks from some of the stars of the networks and occasionally I’ll try to look up one of the recipes online, but what I really like is re-creating a version that works for me and my family right here at home.  That usually means less exotic or pricey ingredients, employs familiar techniques, and pleases the un-stuffy palettes of kid and hubby.

This brings me to today’s kitchen creation.  I can’t remember which show for certain but there was an episode that had something called a breakfast waffle burger, or something like that.  Hello!!!  I love burgers.  I love breakfast.  I love waffles.  How quick can I make this?

My recipe basically takes a burger and turns it into an any-time-of-day tower of delicious.  A thick and juicy burger that combines ground beef with maple-flavored pork sausage and saute’ed onions.  Add bacon and a fried egg, and it doesn’t get much better than that.  But wait, it does get better!  Did I mention that it’s served between crispy, golden waffles with a drizzle of maple-bacon mayo?  Whoa!  Yeah, it’s over-the-top, but every now and then, we want an over-the-top kind of dish.  You can fix this as “guy food” for the next “big game” or you can serve it up as a funky-style bistro brunch for friends.  Or you can do what I do and say, “You know what sounds good?  A breakfast burger!”

Today’s Recipe

the breakfast burger
A thick, juicy patty made with beef and maple-flavored sausage, topped with a fried egg, crispy bacon, maple-bacon mayo, served between two crispy buttermilk waffles.

The Waffle Breakfast Burger with Maple Bacon  (makes 6 HUGE burgers)

The Waffles

  • 4 cups pancake and waffle mix
  • 2 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

The Burgers

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb maple-flavored bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 TBS grill seasoning

The Mayo

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper
  • 3 strips bacon, crumbled

The Assembly

  • 1 12-oz pkg center-cut bacon (part of this will be used for the mayo)
  • 6 fried eggs
  • 6 slices Colby jack or pepper jack cheese
  • 6 skewers to hold it all together!

1  Start by preparing the onions for the burgers and melt the tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the diced red onion, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Stir until dark brown and fragrant.  In large bowl place the ground beef, ground sausage, cooked onions, and grill seasoning.  Mix well and form into six even patties.  Set aside.

2  Using the same skillet, reduce heat to medium and fry the entire package of bacon until crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside three strips of the bacon for the mayonnaise.  The rest of the bacon will be used to top the burger.  Once the bacon has been removed from the skillet, begin to cook the burgers in the skillet, five to six minutes per side, depending on desired doneness, but remember they are thick burgers.

3  While the burgers are cooking, mix the waffle batter ingredients in a large bowl.  Spray waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray or brush with melted butter.  Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer directions.  When waffle iron is hot, add some batter to the middle of each waffle compartment, allowing it to spread out before closing the lid.  Cook until waffles have golden crispy edges.  Remove to cooling rack.  Do not stack the waffles or they will become soggy from steam.  Continue this process until you have 12 square waffles to sandwich your six burgers.  My waffle maker does four squares at a time, so it takes three batches, but they cook pretty quickly.

4  When burgers are done, top each with a slice of cheese and allow to melt before removing to a paper towel-lined plate or tray.  Fry six eggs to desired doneness.

5 For the Maple Bacon Mayo, combine one cup mayonnaise with the maple syrup, vinegar, and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir in crumbled bacon.

6 Assemble the burgers.  Top a crispy waffle square with a burger topped with the melty cheese.  Top this with a fried egg and two strips of bacon.  Drizzle the whole thing with the maple bacon mayo.  Top with another crispy waffle square, and stick a skewer through the whole thing to keep it tall and neat.  Serve with plenty of napkins!