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A Pork Burger with a Twist

Summer is over and we’ve all had our fill of hamburgers. I like to experiment with seasonings, cheeses, topping, and buns for my burgers. If you read my blog “Battle of the Grilled Beef Burgers,” then you have seen the unique burgers I created this summer.

It’s not just beef hamburgers these days. There’s turkey, bison, veggie, and even plant-based burgers. But have you ever tried a pork burger? Today, I’m going to share with you my twist on a pork burger. Holy Grail Steak Company sent me their Mangalitsa pork burger patties.

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Mangalitsa, nearly extinct as recently as 1989, belongs to that coveted class of heritage pork—old time varieties raised for their distinctive flavor.  (We’ve extolled the virtues of Berkshire and Red Wattle hogs in previous blogs.).  Native to Hungary, wooly Mangalitsas are prized for their generous marbling of luscious creamy fat.   (They’ve been called the porcine equivalent of Kobe beef.) The meat—reddish compared to more common breeds, is packed with unctuous flavor.

So, what’s the twist? Due to the marbling and the rich flavor of the Mangalitsa pork I thought I could make it feel like a pulled pork sandwich.

Pulled Pork Burger

My plan was to season the pork patties with barbecue rub just like you would apply a rub to a pork butt. You can’t have a burger without cheese, and I wanted to incorporate a smoky flavor, so I planned to top the burger with smoked gouda cheese. I realize cheese isn’t usual part of a pulled pork sandwich, but felt it was worth a try. I enjoy the tang of pickles and how they cut the richness of pork, so pickle chips were part of the plan. A pulled pork sandwich isn’t complete without slaw so I added a carrot and red cabbage slaw for additional crunch. I also swapped out the ketchup for barbecue sauce.

Pulled Pork Burger with Seasonings

One of the key elements of a pulled pork sandwich is the smoky flavor that comes from the long slow cooking process. I didn’t think just adding smoked gouda cheese would achieve the smoky flavor you get from pulled pork.

To incorporate a smoke flavor on the pork burgers I decided to cook over a wood fire. I filled a chimney starter with apple wood chunks.

Apple Wood Chunks

Once they were hot, I added them to a kettle grill. I set up a two-zone fire to cook the pork burgers. The cool zone allowed me to move the burgers in case of flare-ups and prevents the burgers from burning.

Starter Chimney

I cooked the burgers for two and half minutes. Then I gave them a quarter turn and cooked an additional two and half minutes. I repeated the process on the opposite side. At then end of the cooking process I topped the burgers with the smoked gouda cheese. I placed each burger on a toasted brioche bun. Each pork burger was then topped with pickle chips and slaw, and I painted the top bun with barbecue sauce.

Pulled Pork Burgers on the fire

The pork burgers were juicy and bursting with flavor. The pork burgers even had a smoky aroma from the wood fire. I enjoyed the crunch from the slaw and pickle. The slaw and pickles also balanced the texture of the tender pork burger. The tang of the pickles cut the richness of pork burger and the gouda cheese. The barbecue sauce was a nice touch but wasn’t necessary since the burgers were far from dry.

Pulled Pork Purger's Done

If you are looking to change up your usual burger, try the pork burgers from Holy Grail Steak; they will not disappoint.


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