Kitchen Accomplice- Jamaican me hungry with this barbecued chicken burger recipe

   If I were forced to characterize my life as a grillmaster, I think the description would fall into that of the usual backyard summer cook: burgers, hot dogs, spareribs (if I am in the mood to clean up) and the occasional chicken on a rotisserie -- or not. 
   I have often been intrigued by the recipes of adventurous chefs who work to drag us out of our normal drill. 
   One such cook who inspired me this week is a guy from Toronto.  How he got the Jamaican influence for his chicken burgers he did not reveal. 
   I was nevertheless fascinated because a mere reading of his ingredients list told me this would be a wonderful  addition to my backyard repertoire.  I tried it. 
   My instincts did not betray me.   I think  you and your family and friends will enjoy it too. 
   It was made all the more memorable by the melodious gurgling of the martins in the yard coming and going and gobbling up the mosquitoes – a bumper crop of those this season. 
   The wet spring created the right conditions for them.  Our martins come every year.  What welcome sights and sounds they provide!
   As the martins make their voyages around the yard, build you charcoal fire.  A good hardwood fire started with a chimney and newspaper is best. 
   As usual, allow it to gray before you begin to cook.  These burgers take no time at all – as is  usual with most cooking assignments, the advance preparation takes the most time. 
   But that, of course is what assures you the result you are seeking.  And, in this case the burger preparation must cool its heels in the fridge overnight once put together.  This is how the flavors all get infused into the chicken.

Jamaican Chicken Burger
1/2 cup slivered and chopped green onions
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (yes, it is true)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (do not omit these)
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
6 burger buns

   Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch chunks. 
   In a large bowl  mix all together – the chicken, onions, soy sauce, spices, garlic and pepper flakes. 
   Cover and refrigerate overnight.
   Before placing on the grill, put the chicken mixture in a large bowl and in two batches place in the food processor. 
   You are looking for a coarsely ground mixture – about 12 pulses will do it.
   Form into six patties, with an indentation in the center (made with your fist) to assist the burgers to cook evenly. 
   Be sure to spray the grill grate well with a cooking spray before you place it on the grill.  And let it heat up before you place the burgers on.
   Once you get a good fire going—you are looking for a medium heat. 
   Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning just once.  You are seeking a temperature of 160 degrees registered on your meat thermometer inserted horizontally.
   To serve, have handy a bowl of mayonnaise, a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce, a bowl of thinly sliced tomatoes seasoned lightly with salt and pepper and a bowl of drained and sliced pickled hot peppers.
   It is a nice touch to split and toast the burger buns, until lightly browned.  These can be buttered to great effect.
   When the meat is piled on the buns with the condiments you have provided, people will be looking around for Harry Belafonte. 
This is Jamaica!  Day O!

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge.  He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area. He can be reached at