Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
It is a rare occasion that I skip breakfast. Whether it a quick bowl of cereal with an extra-strong coffee during the week or a leisurely weekend spread of eggs and bacon, hearty pancakes with pure maple syrup, or homemade sausage with freshly baked buttery sweet rolls, I love the first meal of the day. On occasion, I will even eat breakfast twice: once in the morning, and once for dinner. Not only are breakfasts-for-dinner relatively easy to prepare (especially when you have not had time to go grocery shopping!), but they are a fun and unexpected way to change up the usual dinner entree rotation.
This burger was inspired by the “greatest hits” of an American breakfast! The burger is seasoned with my favorite homemade sausage seasonings, but I replaced the usual breadcrumbs with some toasty crushed Corn Chex, soaked in milk. The Smoky Bacon Jam is sweetened with pure maple syrup, and the addition of espresso powder and Tabasco (which I usually put on my eggs) bring an eye-opening kick. The patty is topped with aged white cheddar and a fried egg, and everything is held together with buttered toasted Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. These hearty burgers are proof that breakfast tastes great at any time of the day (or night!)
For the Smoky Bacon-Shallot Jam:
12 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3/4 cup Colavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
For the burger patties:
1 1/4 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup grated sweet yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/4 pounds ground chuck
Vegetable oil for brushing the grill
6 thick slices aged white cheddar cheese
7 tablespoons good quality unsalted butter, divided
6 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls
6 large eggs, preferable organic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Makes 6 burgers
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Prepare the Smoky Bacon-Shallot Jam: Place the bacon in a large skillet set over the grill rack. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat has been rendered and the bacon is lightly crisped, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Carefully pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease from the skillet. Add the shallots and the garlic to the skillet, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar, Tabasco, espresso powder, and ancho chili powder to the skillet; stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a low boil, and then reduce the grill heat to low. Simmer the mixture until the liquid has reduced and thickened to a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes in the skillet, and then transfer it to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse the mixture until the bacon is coarsely chopped (do not puree!) Transfer the jam to a bowl, cover, and set aside to cool completely.
Return the grill heat to medium-high.
Prepare the patties: Finely grind the Corn Chex, either by pulsing in a food processor or by placing in a small zip-top bag and crushing with a rolling pin (or a rolled wine bottle.) Place the ground Chex in a large bowl and add the milk; stir to mix. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute, so that the cereal can soak up the milk. Add the onion, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and allspice to the bowl; stir to mix. Add the ground chuck to the bowl and mix all of the ingredients together, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid overworking it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.
Grill the patties: Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, 4-6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. During the last few minutes of grilling, place one slice of cheese on each patty.
Transfer the burgers to aluminum foil-lined plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Place one tablespoon of the butter on a large heat-proof skillet or griddle pan, and place on the grill. Spread the remaining butter on both flat sides of the sandwich rolls. Place the sandwich rolls, cut sides down, around the circumference of the grill (or on the upper grill grate, if available), to lightly toast. Crack the eggs onto the pan/griddle, and sprinkle with the pepper and salt. Let the eggs cook until the whites are set, about 1 minute. Carefully flip the eggs, trying not to break the yolks, and cook for 15 seconds longer.
Assemble the burgers: Place the patties on the bottom halves of the buns. Spread the bacon jam on the top halves of the buns. Top the patties with a fried egg and the top buns. Serve immediately!