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Spicy burger gets hotter

Hempen Hill's chorizo burger gets national attention

Hempen Hill's chorizo burger gets national attention

September 16, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

It was a chorizo quesadilla Jason Vogel once tasted that led the chef to come up with his own chorizo creation, one that got national attention this past summer on TV.

Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill's one-half pound chorizo burger was one of five finalists in the Ultimate Hometown Grill-Off burger category on "Live! with Regis and Kelly" in June.

The burger didn't win, but the restaurant north of Hagerstown scored three months worth of chorizo burger sales in a week's time due to the TV exposure, said Vogel, 38, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who is executive chef at Hempen Hill.

Vogel said a chorizo quesadilla he tasted years ago lacked flavor.

"It needed something more," Vogel recalled.

So Vogel created his own chorizo quesadilla for the restaurant he was working for at the time. That quesadilla didn't garner a great response, so Vogel decided instead to make a chorizo burger.

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"I'm a big fan of sausage," Vogel said.

But sausage can be rich to eat, so he mixed loose chorizo with ground beef to cut the richness.

Then he added his own Cajun spice blend. Chorizo sausage is already spicy, and his spice blend took that up another notch.

When Vogel got the call about the burger being a finalist on the morning show, he thought it was a hoax.

Kathy Reeder, who owns the restaurant with her husband Jay, had entered the burger in the contest. She mentioned it to Vogel, but Vogel said he wasn't sure what the contest was.

Vogel said the chorizo burger sold well before the national attention, but afterward, sales of the spicy burger were really hot.

Hempen Hill BBQ chorizo burgers

1 pound hot or mild chorizo loose sausage
1 pound ground beef (80 percent lean/20 percent fat)
1/2 tablespoon Vogel's Cajun spice blend (recipe follows), to taste
4 slices pepper jack cheese
4 cornmeal-dusted Kaiser rolls, or roll of choice
Romaine lettuce
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Creole mustard (see cook's note)

Heat grill to medium-high.

Mix the loose sausage and ground beef together in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the meat and Cajun spice. Cook a marble-sized bit of meat mixture to check spiciness; add more Cajun spice if desired. Divide meat into 4 meatballs; form into patties. Place each patty on a grill and cook to an internal temperature of 155 degrees or until medium-well.

Top with a slice of pepper jack cheese and place on roll. Top each burger with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and a slice of red onion. Serve with Creole mustard as a condiment.

Makes 4 8-ounce patties

Cook's note: Vogel uses Zatarain's Creole mustard.

- Courtesy of Jason Vogel, executive chef of Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill, north of Hagerstown

Vogel's Cajun spice blend

1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
3 tablespoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons salt

Mix all the ingredients. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

- Courtesy of Jason Vogel, executive chef of Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill, north of Hagerstown

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