Bawdy Beef ‘n Bacon Burger with Crispy Blackened Okra

Wine Varietal: Pinot Noir

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Fried Okra, my grandmother’s batter fried okra to be exact, has been a favorite food for as long as I can remember.After having a friend’s modified (no batter) blackened okra and loving it, I began thinking of pairing it with another favorite food–a juicy hamburger–and adding a hot and spicy sauce that would compliment both. The tweaking began, and we’ve been enjoying it ever since.

Ingredients:

Burger Sauce:
1 stick butter (salted)
4 tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
One-half cup mayonnaise (preferably Dukes)

Toppings:
6 quarter inch slices from large, beefy, red tomato

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound fresh okra pods, top removed and discarded, pods quartered long ways
One-half teaspoon fine sea salt
One-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Patties:
2 teaspoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 ounces lean Hickory Smoked Bacon, diced
1 cup diced sweet onion
One-third cup Sutter Home Chardonnay

One and one-half pounds ground sirloin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
One-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper
One-fourth cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of the reserved Tabasco mixture

1 tablespoon vegetable oil for brushing grill grate

Buns:
6 kaiser rolls (regular hamburger bun size)
Reserved melted butter

Instructions:

Burger Sauce:
Prepare grill for medium heat.
In a small heat proof pot, melt butter on grill. Use 2 teaspoons melted butter in the sauce and set the rest aside to use later.
Mix two teaspoons melted butter, the Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce, dark brown sugar, tomato paste and smoked sweet paprika until completely blended. A small whisk helps fully combine these ingredients.
Stir three tablespoons of the Tabasco mixture together with the mayonnaise, whisking to completely combine. Set Burger Sauce aside, along with the extra Tabasco mixture.

Toppings:
Place tomato slices on paper towels to absorb any excess liquid and set aside.

Cut cheese into six equal portions and set aside.

Prepare grill for medium high heat.
Place large heat proof skillet (I use a well seasoned 10 inch cast iron skillet) on grill. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss sliced okra with salt and pepper. Add okra to hot skillet covering bottom, but not layering. Cook in two batches adding remaining olive oil for second batch. Cook, turning occasionally with tongs for 6 minutes or until crisp and beginning to blacken. Remove okra to plate covered with paper towels, and set aside.

Patties:
Add two teaspoons olive oil to 10 inch cast iron skillet on grill over medium high heat. Add diced bacon to pan and cook, stirring, for five minutes, or until bacon is beginning to brown. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. Leave only a tablespoon of oil in pan. Add diced onion, cooking and stirring for three minutes, or until onions are softened and translucent. Add wine to pan, stir and cook another 3 minutes until wine is cooked down and flavor is absorbed by onions. Pour into bowl with cooked bacon and set aside to cool.

Remove skillet from grill and prepare patties for grilling.
Add ground sirloin beef to large mixing bowl. With a fork, separate beef evenly over bottom of bowl. Sprinkle salt, pepper and parsley evenly over beef. Add reserved cooked bacon, onion and wine mixture evenly over meat. Finally, add two tablespoons of the reserved Tabasco mixture, drizzling evenly over the beef. With forks, gently toss to mix ingredients evenly. Divide into six equal portions, and with as little handling as possible, form into patties, being careful not to overly compact.
Brush grill with vegetable oil. Place burgers on prepared medium-high heat grill, close lid, and cook for five minutes, or until bottoms are nicely browned. Turn burgers, close lid and cook for another four minutes, or to desired doneness. Add cheese during last minute of cooking to the top of each burger. Close lid and cook until cheese begins to melt. Remove burger from grill and tent with Reynolds Wrap nonstick foil to rest while preparing buns.

Buns:
Slice buns open, brush cut sides with melted butter and place on outer edges of grill, buttered sides down. Grill for three to four minutes, until buns are beginning to toast and have a few grill marks.
Remove from grill and spread each grilled side with one teaspoon of Burger Sauce.

To Assemble:
To assemble burgers, add half the okra to bun bottoms. Top each with a tomato slice. Add burger with cheese. Top with remaining okra. Cover with bun top, and ENJOY!