Deep South Burgers
Food and Drink

Excerpted from Smokin’ Hot in the South: New Grilling Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue by Melissa Cookston. Andrews McMeel Publishing; photo Stephanie Mullins

Deep South Burgers

"A good juicy burger topped with melted pimento and cheese makes for a good day. It’s even better when you can add a lightly fried green tomato to give it a burst of tart freshness.

Serves: 4


2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons Grillin’ Shake (recipe follows)

Pimiento and Cheese (recipe follows)

4 buns, for serving

Fried Green Tomatoes (recipe follows)

Prepare a medium-hot grill for cooking. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, garlic and onion powder. Stir until incorporated and pat into 4 (8-ounce) patties. (I usually use a burger ring when I’m grilling so I can get evenly thick patties.) Season both sides with the Grillin’ Shake and place on a medium hot grill. Cook to your desired temperature, about 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium to medium-well. As the burgers are nearing temperature, place 2 to 3 ounces of pimiento and cheese on each burger and let cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the pimiento and cheese is beginning to melt. Place the burger patty on the bun with your favorite burger fixings, then top with a fried green tomato and enjoy.


Grillin’ Shake


“This is my go-to seasoning blend when grilling almost anything. It is flavorful but also neutral enough to be used on a variety of different meats.”


6 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon onion flakes, lightly ground in a spice grinder

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly ground in a spice grinder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir by hand until well incorporated. Store in an airtight container for up to two months. Makes about ¾ cup.


Pimento Cheese


“This is my pimiento and cheese recipe when I’m looking for a “comfort sandwich.” It makes for a pretty tasty burger topping as well!”


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained

2 teaspoons grated Vidalia or other sweet onion

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, preferably roasted pepper hot sauce

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup candied jalapeños, diced


Whisk or beat the cream cheese until soft, then fold in the mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, pepper, hot sauce, cheese and jalapeños. Stir until well mixed, then add salt if needed. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, but bring to room temperature before using on burgers. Makes 4 cups.


Fried Green Tomatoes   


“This is lightly breaded and cut thin to cook quickly and still have a fresh tomato texture.”


Peanut oil, for frying

2 medium green tomatoes, cut into ¼ to ½ -inch slices

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup self-rising flour

1/4 cup white cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat about 1 inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet to 350°F. Place the tomato slices in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. On a plate, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper using a fork. Lightly dredge the tomato slices in the seasoned flour on both sides. Lay the tomatoes in the oil and cook until the bottom begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn over to brown the other side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain until ready to serve.