Food & Drink

An All-Star Appalachian Pork Burger

Slathered with apple-butter-onion-jam and crowned with pickles and slaw, North Carolina’s Over Yonder burger is a taste of the mountain South you can make at home

Photo: Cheryl Zibisky

At Over Yonder in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, the floors inside the 1800s building creak as visitors shuffle to wooden dining tables. The restaurant sits in the former homestead of the Taylors, one of the founding families of this little town. But today, it is a slice of small-town simplicity where Appalachian-inspired food and Southern hospitality meet. (It’s also right up the road from the original Mast General Store.)

photo: Revival Photography
Outside Over Yonder.
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“It’s a blessing because the space here is really what makes Over Yonder what it is,” says chef-owner Andy Long. In 2014, he opened the restaurant with the former owners of Valle Crucis’s Mast Farm Inn and amicably took it over completely in 2016. Over Yonder’s menu takes a modern and casual approach to Southern Appalachian food, and many ingredients are sourced from farms in North Carolina’s High Country. 

Though the restaurant’s menu has changed over the years, several dishes have remained since the early days, including the Over Yonder Pork Burger. “We made a decision a long time ago that the burger was well received, and we were going to stick with it,” he says. “I don’t think I could take it off even if I wanted to.” 

This dish is different from the barbecue pulled pork sandwiches the Carolinas are known for. Long grinds the meat into a patty and layers it with bold, flavorful ingredients, including an apple-butter-onion-jam. “It’s a lot of things that you wouldn’t think taste good together,” Long says, “but it works for some reason.” He serves it with housemade chips tossed in pork fat and sprinkled with rosemary, salt, and pepper. 

Two tips from the chef: Skip the grill and cook this burger in a cast-iron skillet on the stove. And wash it down with apple cider—Long recommends the hard stuff: Molley Chomper Cider from Lansing, North Carolina.


  • Over Yonder Pork Burger (Yield: 4 6-oz. burgers)

    • 1 tbsp. bacon grease or oil

    • 4 pork patties (instructions follow)

    • Onion jam (recipe follows)

    • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese

    • Napa slaw (recipe follows)

    • 8–12 pickle slices (recipe follows)

    • Kosher salt to taste

    • 4 buns, toasted

  • For the burger patties

    • 1.5 lb. ground pork

    • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika

    • 1 tsp. ground white pepper

    • 1 tsp. ground ginger

    • 2 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard

    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • For the apple butter onion jam

    • 5–6 medium yellow onions, sliced thin (about 12 cups sliced onion)

    • 1 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

    • 1 small bunch fresh thyme

    • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

    • 1 cup apple butter (the chef recommends homemade, Mast’s, or Mama Dawn’s)

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • For the Over Yonder pickles

    • 1 quart sliced cucumbers in mason jar or plastic deli container

    • 4 cloves garlic, smashed

    • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

    • 2–3 dill fronds (optional)

    • 2 cups water

    • 1 cup rice wine vinegar

    • 6 tbsp. sugar

    • 2 tsp. salt

  • For the Napa slaw

    • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

    • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar

    • ¾ cup sherry vinegar

    • 1½ cup canola oil

    • Kosher salt and pepper

    • ½ head napa cabbage, finely shredded

    • ½ small red onion, shaved very thin

    • ¼ cup smoked and sliced almonds (or just toasted and sliced)


  1. Make the patties: Combine ingredients. Divide into 4 equal portions and form patties. Return to cooler until ready to cook.

  2. Make the onion jam: In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add onions, oil, and thyme bunch. Stir until onions start to release moisture and become fragrant but aren’t yet beginning to brown. Turn heat to low and cover with lid. Let cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning.

  3. Remove lid and remove thyme bunch. Turn heat up to high and stir. 

  4. When the liquid has mostly evaporated, add the vinegar. Turn heat down and let simmer until the amount of liquid is reduced by about half. Add apple butter, salt, and pepper.

  5. You can let it cook on low for a few minutes, but it is essentially finished, although it tastes better the next day. Stored in your refrigerator, the onion jam can last about 7 days. It also works really well on pork and with cheese boards.

  6. Make the pickles: To jar or container of cucumbers, add garlic, red pepper flakes, and dill if using.

  7. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat on stovetop or in microwave until salt and sugar dissolve. Carefully pour hot brine to the top of the container and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

  8. Store in fridge. Pickles will be ready 24 hours later and will be good for 3 or 4 weeks.

  9. Make the slaw: In a blender or food processor, combine mustard, sugar, and sherry vinegar. Slowly add canola oil until combined. Season dressing with a pinch each of salt and pepper.

  10. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, red onion, and almonds. Season with more salt and pepper and toss with vinegar dressing.

  11. Cook and assemble the burgers: Heat a large cast-iron skillet to medium/medium-high. Add oil. When it shimmers, carefully place 4 pork patties in the pan.

  12. Cook for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip patties. When patties hit an internal temperature of about 150°, remove from heat, top with onion jam and cheese (divided among patties), and cover pan with lid. This will melt the cheese and finish the cooking process.

  13. After the cheese melts, salt to taste and top each patty with Napa slaw and pickles and place in buns. Serve immediately.