Wine Varietal: Merlot
I was very fortunate to have grown up in South Louisiana where good food, good times and being outdoors is the standard way of living. My inspiration for this recipe combines childhood memories of berry picking (with my mother, brothers and cousins) along the bayous, and the spicy, savory, smoky flavors that are synonymous with Louisiana cooking.Although the spicy takes center stage when referring to Cajun cooking, a sometimes little known fact is that – true bayou cooking also has a slight sweetness, along with the savory and spicy, that is developed from cooking the Cajun Trinity of onions, garlic, and bell pepper slow and long. I wanted to incorporate that sweet and savory combination into a burger along with some of my favorite ingredients, good beef, blue cheese, chocolate, good wine and berries for a sweet freshness! Add a generous dose of outdoor cooking, heaping with friends and family and plenty of good wine and you have a memory making burger meal that cannot be beat in my book.
Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
1 cup good quality mayonnaise
5 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce (more if you like it spicy)
2 pounds fresh ground chuck (80/20)
1 teaspoon cayenne red pepper (more if you dare!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, rounded
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons good merlot wine
1-1/2 cup fresh or frozen whole blackberries
Buns and vegetables
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on grill rack
1 large red onion, sliced into rings
1 tomato sliced thinly
1-1/2 cups pre-washed spring lettuce mix (baby lettuces)
6 good quality hamburger buns, split
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high, approximately 425 degrees.
To prepare the mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise, blue cheese and Tabasco in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Slice red onion in 1/4 -1/2 inch rings and set aside for grilling. Slice tomato, set aside for assembly later.
Prepare dry ingredients for patties by combining cayenne, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cocoa in a bowl and set aside. In separate bowl, whisk merlot and egg together. In a large bowl, mix the ground chuck, dry seasonings and egg mixture, handling as little as possible. Separate into 6 equal sections. Starting with one section, split into two pieces and shape each as a thin patty ( a top & bottom- this will allow you to place berries in the middle of the patty). On one of these patties, place 1/4 cup of blackberries in center (approximately 7-8 large berries). Cover with other meat patty, seal ends around the berries in the center by pinching the edges of the two patties together and creating one thick patty. Try to minimize handling of beef. Repeat procedure with remaining 5 sections of beef mixture. Loosely cover with plastic wrap.
Brush grill with oil when ready. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook on first side for 5 minutes, turn once and cook another 3 minutes on other side for a medium burger (or 5 minutes for well done). During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place onion rings and rolls, cut side down, on the cooler sections of grill. Grill onions briefly until softened on both sides and toast buns until light brown grill marks appear.
To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of blue cheese mayonnaise on each side of toasted bun. On bun bottom, place 1/4 cup of lettuce mix, tomato slice, grilled patty, 2-3 grilled onion rings, top with prepared bun top and serve.
Makes 6 burgers