Sweet and sour. It’s perhaps the most common example of creating a dish with contrasting flavors. Great dishes are all about balance. A dish can be sweet and taste great. However, that dish can become great when you add a component of sourness or spiciness which not only offers contrast in flavor, but ends up reinforcing the dish’s intended flavor profile.
For example, let’s talk about this agrodolce (literally, Italian for “sour-sweet”). I first encountered said sauce at one of my favorite restaurants – City House. The Chef had a dish – homemade sausage with green tomato agrodolce and abbey ale mustard. It was a phenomenal dish – the really fatty, juicy sausage was rich and hearty. But what made it great was the sauces, which cut through the richness of the dish and made the plate harmonious – great contrast in flavor and incredible balance. Ever since that day, I knew I needed to re-create this sauce.
Low and behold, I was at the market on Saturday for my CSA pickup, when I saw we were able to pick up 2 lbs of green tomatoes. The minute I saw them, I knew this recipe had to be made. And if that wasn’t a sign, when I looked up “green tomato agrodolce” to try to get a recipe, I realized the City House recipe was actually featured in Bon Appetit! The recipe itself is really easy – it takes almost no time to make. So, I made a big batch and put it in the fridge.
The next day just happened to be Sunday – and that means football in my house. I had a few friends coming over and decided to make some burgers. And then it hit me – a juicy, fatty, beef burger with this green tomato agrodolce would be amazing. The match was made, the burgers were eaten, and all rejoiced! I might never go back to dill pickles – this agrodolce sauce is were it’s at. And you better believe I’m going to use it on whatever I can!
This is one burger you are gonna love!
Beef Burger | Green Tomato Agrodolce | Caramelized Onions
For the green tomato agrodolce:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups chopped green tomatoes
1/4 distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
For the caramelized onions:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
For the burgers:
2 lbs ground beef (I get mine fresh ground at the butcher - this was a mix of 50% chuck, 25% skirt steak, 25% brisket), molded into 8 1/4 lb. patties
8 slices jalapeno jack cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the agrodolce:
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook until they are soft, but have not browned, about 4 minutes. Then add the sugar and cook until the liquid in the pan becomes a little syrupy, about 5 minutes. Put in the tomatoes, vinegar, and mustard. Season the entire dish with salt. Bring the heat up to high and when it starts boiling, reduce the heat back to medium and cook until the tomatoes are tender, but not falling apart.
The mixture should not be too liquidy. If it is, strain the tomatoes and reduce until you have about 1/2 cup of liquid. Put the agrodolce in a bowl and bring to room temperature. Then, cover and chill in the fridge for one day.
For the onions:
Let the butter melt in a pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes until the onions are soft and deeply caramelized. Remove from the heat.
For the burgers:
Season the burgers liberally with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers for about 2-3 minutes on each side for medium. About a minute before the burger is done, put a slice of cheese and cover the grill so the cheese is completely melted.
To assemble the burgers, get your hamburger buns (feel free to toast them), and shmear on some mayonnaise. Then top it with the caramelized onions, the burger, and finish with the green tomato agrodolce sauce
Burger/onion recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti, sauce recipe courtesy of City House in Nashville, TN