Bacon ‘n’ Apple Cheeseburger Sliders

Bacon ‘n’ Apple Cheeseburger Sliders

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 12 minutes

Ingredients:
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
2/3 cup coarsely shredded, unpeeled, sweet−tart red apple
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 thick slices applewood−smoked bacon, cooked and very finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse−ground black pepper
3 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese, cut into 12 pieces
Apple Aioli (see recipe below)
12 cocktail buns or Parker House rolls, split*
12 very small lettuce leaves or fresh baby spinach
Very thinly sliced, unpeeled, sweet−tart red apple (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven broiler. For burgers, mix ground beef, shredded apple, onion, bacon, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper in large bowl until just combined (do not overwork meat mixture). With damp hands, form mixture into twelve 2 1/2−inch−round patties.

2. Broil patties on rack in broiling pan, 4 inches from heat for 8 to 12 minutes or until instant−read thermometer inserted near centers reads 160° F., turning patties over halfway through broiling (Or, grill patties on grill cooking screen or in grill basket directly over medium heat, uncovered, for 8 to 12 minutes, turning over once.

3. Place 1 cheese piece on the top of each patty. Continue broiling (or cover grill and continue grilling) for 30 to 60 seconds or until cheese begins to melted.

4. To serve, spread aioli on bottom of buns. Top with patties; if desired, apple slices; and lettuce. Close sandwiches with bun tops. If desired, hold sandwiches close with wooden sandwich picks or 6−inch bamboo skewers.

*If buns are too thick, cut off a thin slice from the inside of each bun half.

Apple Aioli:

Stir together 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 5 teaspoons frozen apple juice concentrate until combined. Makes about 1/3 cup.

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