Chicken Burgers with Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and Mushrooms

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

A chicken burger dripping with flavorful barbecue sauce is sure to be a welcome mess. Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want the sauce. Freeze extra barbecue sauce for up to 3 months, or use it for another dinner later in the week: toss a little with shredded rotisserie chicken, mix with shredded cheese and stuff into tortillas to make quesadillas.


For the barbecue sauce:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) bourbon
  • 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. molasses
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the mushrooms:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) white or brown mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  • 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) ground chicken, preferably dark meat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 lb. (125 g) Monterey jack cheese, sliced
  • 4 seeded buns, split
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves


To make the barbecue sauce, in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until soft, about 1 minute. Add the bourbon and cook until the liquid reduces by half. Add the ketchup, mustard, balsamic vinegar, molasses, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is nicely thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

To make the mushrooms, in a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and butter together until the butter is melted. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden around the edges but still holding their shape, about 8 minutes. Set aside, keeping them warm until ready to serve.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.

Form the ground chicken into 4 patties, using your fingers to create a dimple in the middle of each. Season both sides well with salt and pepper. Coat the grill grate lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the burgers on the grate directly over the heat and grill, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 8 minutes per side. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, top the burgers with the cheese.

Arrange the buns, cut side down, on the grate directly over the heat and toast until lightly browned.

Top the bottom bun with lettuce, then set the burgers on the buns. Top with the barbecue sauce and mushrooms. Close the burgers and serve immediately, passing extra barbecue sauce at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Burger Night, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2015)

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