Wine Varietal: Merlot
Local legend in Rhinelander, Wisconsin dating back to the lumberjack era describes the “Hodag” as a green monster seven feet long and thirty inches tall with white horns along its back and white tusks hanging from its vise-like jaws.It is the city symbol and a statue of this mystical creature now resides in front of its Chamber of Commerce. It was my intrigue with the legend that inspired my “Beefy Hodag Burger”, an angus beef patty seasoned with horseradish and Worcestershire sauce to add a bit of a “bite” to the burger. To replicate the Hodag’s white horns, I topped the burger with shredded Wisconsin “extra sharp” white cheddar and then added local smoked bacon. I went “green” by mixing fresh spinach into the patty and placing lettuce over the toasted onion roll bottom. Green tinted mayo is smeared over the roll top before closing the burger. The combination of local and state produced ingredients used in my beefy creation and the “Hodag” legend plus a little imagination is what makes my burger a great local American burger.
Basil Tinted Mayo
1 small clove garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons thick and creamy bottled horseradish
2 pounds ground Angus beef chuck
4 tablespoons thick and creamy bottled horseradish
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh leafy spinach (packed)
6 strips center cut hickory smoked bacon
vegetable oil for brushing grill grate
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon smokehouse ground black pepper
1 cup shredded extra sharp Wisconsin White Cheddar Cheese
6 large bakery-baked onion rolls
6 pieces fresh leaf lettuce
To prepare the mayo, finely chop garlic in a food processor. Add basil, mayonnaise and horseradish; process until smooth and well blended. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.
For patties, in a large bowl combine the beef, spinach, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce; gently mix together. Form 6 patties and make an indentation in center of each patty. Refrigerate until needed.
Prepare a charcoal grill to medium-hot heat or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Once grill heat is reached, place a large cast iron skillet on grill grate; heat to hot. Add bacon strips; cook until strips are crisp and browned. Remove skillet from heat and transfer bacon to paper toweling. Let set until needed.
Brush grill grate with vegetable oil. Retrieve patties and season with salt and pepper. Place patties on grill grate over medium-hot heat and cook covered, turning after 5 to 6 minutes or when nicely browned on one side. Cook opposite side until medium or desired doneness. During final minutes of cooking, top patties with shredded cheese and place rolls cut side down along grill edge to toast lightly. Remove patties when cheese has slightly melted and rolls are toasted.
To assemble, place a leaf of lettuce on roll bottom and set a burger over lettuce. Cut a bacon strip in half and criss-cross halves over burger. Retrieve mayo and spread over toasted side of onion roll then cover burger.