Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
1 cup mayonnaise
1 sm can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
2 lbs fresh ground chuck
2 lg fennel bulbs (grated using 1 ½ cups)
2 tsp ground sea salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 lg sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweets
12 tbls chilled butter (cut 6 tbls into pats and keep chilled until later)
12 strips of thick cut apple wood smoked bacon
¾ lb of aged sharp white cheddar (sliced)
2 lg firm golden delicious apples cored and sliced ¼ ” thick
6 good quality, whole grain, wheat hamburger buns split
2-3 tbls vegetable oil for brush the grill rack
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
To make the chipotle mayonnaise, finely dice one chipotle chili. Add diced chili plus 1 tsp of adobo sauce to the mayonnaise and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and keep cool until ready to assemble burgers.
To make the patties, grate the fennel bulbs on the large-hole side of a grater. You will need 1 ½ cups of grated fennel. Combine the ground chuck, grated fennel, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Handle the meat as little as possible. You don’t want the burger compacted. Shape into 6 patties to fit the buns. It helps to make them a little larger than the bun as the meat will shrink some. Cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled until ready to cook. Bring the meat up to room temperature prior to placing on the grill.
Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat a large cast iron skillet that has a lid on the grill. When the pan is hot, add 6 tbls of butter and the onions. Stir until the butter is melted and the onions are coated. Cover and cook stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Heat a large cast skillet on the grill. Add the bacon and cook until almost crisp. Drain on paper towel and wrap in foil to keep warm. Save the bacon drippings to brush the apples just prior to placing them on the grill.
When the grill is up to temperature, brush the grill with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack. Brush 6 apples slices with a little of the bacon drippings and place on the grill as well. Cook the patties to your preferred doneness. (5-7 minutes per side for medium). Grill the apple for 3-4 minutes on each side or until crisp tender. Remove and place in foil to keep warm. They will continue to cook a little once they are removed from the heat.
With 3 minutes left on side two of the patties, place a pat of butter on each pattie. Place a slice of cheese on top of the butter pat and caramelized onions on top of the cheese. Place the buns, cut side down around the outside edges of the rack. Close the lid so that the cheese and butter will melt. Turn off the heat and remove the buns from the grill when the time us up. Watch the buns carefully. You just want them warm and a little crisp, They can burn quickly.
To assemble the burgers, spread 1 tbl of the chipotle mayonnaise on the cut sides of the buns. Place two strips of bacon on the bottom of each bun. Top the bacon with a burger pattie, a slice of apple and the bun top. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 burgers