Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top 5 Zesty Burger Condiments

cheeseburger in paradise
Flickr photo by emerson12
Today is National Cheeseburger Day, so it seems appropriate to list my top five favorite burger condiments, from 5th to 1st. Whether you prefer grass-fed beef or fast-food fare, veggie burgers or venison patties, or any other style of cheeseburger in between, you won't go wrong with one or more of these zesty condiments:

5.  Barbecue Sauce: Many people who enjoy barbeque sauce on burgers--particularly on grilled cheeseburgers topped with cheddar or pepperjack cheese--are looking for a big, bold tomato based BBQ sauce that's a little bit sweet and a little bit sassy to complement the hearty flavors of the burger. My favorite for pouring on a burger is Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, a North Carolina original that's not a vinegar-based barbecue sauce, but rather a classic All-American sauce with lots of savory-sweet tomato. The Original finishes with a bit of a spicy kick while the Hot & Spicy version adds a secret blend of hot peppers for a feisty heat.

4.  Relish:  While a lot of burger enthusiasts stick with traditional pickle relish made from cucumber, I prefer the flavor and fire of a good, spicy pepper relish. An excellent choice is Texas Longhorn Bread & Butter Jalapeno Dip, chock-full of chopped green jalapeno peppers pickled in a tangy-sweet "bread and butter" style brine for a burst of fiery heat and mouthwatering relish-like flavor.

Spicy Pickles
3.  Pickles: You either love them or hate them on your cheeseburger. I love them. And because I tend towards hot & spicy foods when given a choice, my recommendation is Tabasco Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles. There's just enough peppery heat to tickle your tastebuds, while the garlic provides a pleasant pungency that complements the meatiness of a good burger (and also enhances the flavor of veggie burgers).

2.  Mustard:  I must confess that most of the time, I don't put mustard on my cheeseburger if I'm eating a beef burger.... but if the patty is made from another ground meat such as venison, chicken or turkey, or if I'm eating a veggie cheeseburger, the sharp tang of a good mustard makes the overall flavor more enticing, at least to my palate. And when I'm faced with a non-beef burger and I'm craving a meaty flavor, my choice of mustard is Jim Beam Bacon Mustard. It's a classic American mustard that's dressed up with a splash of Kentucky bourbon and the unmistakeably meaty, smoky flavor of bacon.

Black Pepper Ketchup
1.  Ketchup:  Hands down, my favorite condiment for a cheeseburger (or any burger) is ketchup, ideally a high-quality ketchup like one of Melinda's Ketchups, made with the finest all-natural ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup for a grown-up, gourmet flavor that's neither one-dimensional nor cloyingly sweet like the major brands you find at the supermarket.  Melinda's Ketchups come in five different varieties with varying levels of spice: The mildest is her Black Pepper Ketchup with an upscale flavor and a touch of peppery zip; next is Melinda's Jalapeno Ketchup with a pleasant medium heat and distinctive jalapeno pepper tang; then there's her Chipotle Ketchup with similar heat but that earthy chipotle smokiness; then for serious chileheads Melinda makes a fiery-hot Habanero Ketchup that's one of the hottest (and tastiest) on the market; and finally there's the incendiary Naga Jolokia Ketchup made with the notorious ghost pepper, considered by many to be the world's hottest hot pepper.

What's your favorite cheeseburger condiment? Leave us a comment below to let us know, or tell us on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

Zestfully yours,

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