Truck Stop Meatloaf Burger with Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Recipe courtesy of the Red Team (Sharone, Mike, Dave, Sheetal, Slim)

Get this recipe and more with the official MasterChef Cookbook

For the second MasterChef team challenge-the Burger Challenge-the amateur chefs faced yet another tough task: creating the perfect burger for a group of truckers at a roadside diner. The Red Team's double-comfort food dish-a meatloaf burger-got the highest marks, winning over the truckers and the judges.

Graham Elliot advises, "If you want a burger with superior flavor, you need to freshly grind the meat yourself-it's as simple as that. The process is not only easier than most people think, but also makes the moistest and most flavorful burgers.

If you don't have a meat grinder attachment for your food processor, ask your local butcher to grind the meat for you."


For the barbecue sauce

  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno chile pepper, seeded if desired (wear plastic gloves when handling)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

For the burgers

  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef short rib
  • 1 pound ground New York strip
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound bacon slices, halved crosswise
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill
  • 12 slices provolone cheese
  • 6 sesame seed buns


To make the barbecue sauce:

  1. Place a medium pot over medium heat and add the bacon drippings and oil. When the fat is hot, add the onion and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until tender. Sprinkle in the sugar, stirring to coat the vegetables.

  3. Once the sugar is incorporated, mix in the chipotle. Pour in the broth and vinegar and bring to a boil.

  4. Stir in the ketchup and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the color has deepened.

To make the burgers:

  1. In a small bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the beef broth and set aside to allow the bread crumbs to absorb the broth. It should look like wet sand. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg and tomato paste until fully incorporated. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meats. Add the egg mixture and bread crumbs. Sprinkle in the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix gently by hand to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat or else the burgers will be tough. Fold in the minced onion and parsley. Gently hand-form the ground beef into 6 burgers. Don't pack the meat too tightly. Set the meat aside in the refrigerator.

  3. Put a large skillet over medium-low heat. Fry the bacon in batches for 8 minutes, or until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Tip out all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. To the bacon drippings, add the red onions. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized.

  4. Grease a large grill pan with oil and place on two burners over medium-high heat. Or brush oil on a gas or charcoal grill to create a nonstick surface and preheat the grill to get it very hot. Grill the burgers for 4 minutes per side for medium, or 3 minutes if you like your meat rare. The burgers should turn easily without sticking.

  5. When the burgers are just about cooked, put a couple of slices of cheese on top and allow to melt. Remove the burgers to a clean side plate so you have enough room to toast the buns. Toast the hamburger buns cut side down for 1 minute.

  6. Stack 2 bacon slices across the bottom half of the bun, and lay 2 more crisscrossing to make an 3, creating a platform of bacon. Lay down the hamburger patty, cheese side up, and top with one-sixth of the caramelized onion.

  7. Spread with 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce and top with the other half of the bun. Serve the remaining barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

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Truck Stop Meatloaf Burger with Spicy Barbecue Sauce