Ace of Spades Burger - All of the components of this burger can be made ahead, the order really doesn't matter on this one, so whatever you feel like knocking out first, have at it. We're going to start with the peppers and onions, we'll get them nice and soft then just keep them warm. We're going to need 1 sweet onion and 2 jalapeño peppers both sliced thin, olive oil, salt and pepper. In a small saute pan, warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil then add the sliced veggies. Season with salt and pepper and cook down until soft, about 10 minutes and keep warm.
Next up we can form the burgers and let those set in the fridge for a bit. We need a pound of 80/20 grass fed ground beef that we separate into three 1/3 lb patties and 7 strips of cooked bacon that we coarsely chop.
In a burger mold, scatter 1/3 of the chopped bacon on the bottom and place a mound of the burger meat on top. Press down and season with Back of the Yards seasoning. Carefully flip the patty over so that the bacon in adhered to the top.
The last thing to complete before heading out to the grill is the chutney. In a medium pan saute a shallot and 1/2" of of chopped ginger until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Next add in 1/4 cup of apricot preserves and cook down until melted then add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in a tablespoon of horseradish and a teaspoon of garam masala. Remove from heat.
Now we're ready for the grill. Oil the grates really well and place the patties on a medium/hot grill with the bacon side up. Let the patties go for 3-4 minutes until well-charred then flip over.
Move the patties to the cool side of the grill and glaze with the chutney then top with a couple of slices of havarti.
Cover the grill and let the burgers go until the cheese melts. We can also toast the pretzel buns now as well.
Now we can build this awesome burger. On the top half of the bun spread a little more chutney, then top the burger with the sautéed onions and jalapeños. Close it up and dig in. This may very well be the most balanced burger we've ever made; salty, spicy, sweet, creamy and slightly tart flavors all married together perfectly creating a totally addicting combination.
Arcade Brewery Grapefruit IPA - We were beyond excited to grab a few bombers of this unbelievably awesome grapefruit IPA from Chicago's Arcade Brewery. It's up there as not only one of our favorite local beers, but one of our favorite beers period. The ale pours a dark brown which is cloudy and unfiltered like fresh pressed apple cider. The head is medium sized, off white and frothy. The aroma is fairly muted for an IPA with the grapefruit bitterness coming in faintly. If the aroma is subtle, the taste is anything but. The flavor is full of lush tropical fruits on the front end with bitter grapefruit peel on the finish. The beer is super easy drinking and delicious, so going through the bombers went a little quicker than anticipated making us wish we had 1 or 2 more handy. Pairing wise, it was a slam dunk as is normally the case when we match up a killer IPA with a big burger like this.
Stubb "Cry of the Ocean" - Our introduction to this British trio comes by way of their latest release, the highly acclaimed "Cry of the Ocean". Not knowing what to expect and not doing much research about them prior to the first spin of the album, we had only the album cover and title to go off of. Needless to say we were ready for some pretty chill tunes. The album starts off with the title track's first and second part. From the opening wave sound effect and hypnotic guitar work to the slow jazzy drums we thought we were well on our way to listening to the album we expected. Well, then the roughly 3:19 mark hits and we were smacked in the face by a sonic wave so to speak. A seriously heavy fuzzed out psychedelic riff kicks in, the drums are ridiculously frenetic and the vocals strain with hard rock prowess. Part II takes the psychedelia to downright funky lengths with a sound reminiscent of the Buffalo Killers. "Heavy Blue Sky" is dripping with some killer bluesy swagger. You can almost see and smell the smoke when this song is on loud in a dimly lit room. There's a progressive stoner metal feel to "Sail Forever" recalling some of Mastodon's more catchier material. If you're a fan of Witchcraft's slower doom, and who isn't? "Heartbreaker" is the song for you. A very dark, stirring intro makes its way into some beautiful guitar work. It's a really cool contrast of sounds that works perfectly. The band delves into late 60s heavy psychedelic rock in the same vein as Cream and Hendrix with "Devil's Brew". It's loud, noisy and fuzzy and rocks seriously hard. "Snake Eyes" has a little more of the doom feel, dark and eerie to start off but then gives way to super melodic and catchy chorus. The album ends with "You'll Never Know" which takes it cue from early 70s heavy metal referencing classic Purple. It rocks, but at the same time is a little jammy, a little psychedelic and a little experimental. After spinning this album all week, it's not hard to see why it's landed on so many "best of 2014" lists. It's definitely a perfect "outdoor album" that just keeps getting better with each successive listen.