Wine Varietal: White Merlot
Fresh Oregon sweet red cherries
For the grilled Fennel-Leek salad:
¼ cup vegetable oil for oiling grill rack
1 large fennel bulb
1 large leek
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
1 finely minced clove garlic
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
For the Burgers:
2 pounds ground chuck (20% fat)
½ cup Sutter Home White Merlot wine
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ cup dried cherries
1 large clove garlic
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
1.5 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 crusty buns, sourdough if available
For the Cherry Chutney:
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 medium-large onion, chopped
¾ cup pepperoncini, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons pepperoncini liquid
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup fresh pitted sweet red cherries, chopped
For the Yogurt-Cheese spread:
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup queso fresco
1.5 teaspoons lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ cup fresh pitted sweet red cherries, chopped
To make the grilled Fennel-Leek Salad:
1. Heat the grill to high. Remove the fronds, stalks, and root end from the fennel bulb. Cut into quarters. Remove the remaining core section at the root end. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse away all dirt and grit. Brush the fennel and leek pieces with olive oil. Put some vegetable oil on a towel and oil grill rack. Lay the fennel and leek pieces on grill rack cut side up. Grill for 4-5 minutes, until lightly charred. Remove from grill and set aside to cool.
2. For the dressing, mix ¼ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, honey or agave nectar, and 1 clove minced garlic. Set aside. Just before serving, thinly slice the fennel and leek pieces. Add the dressing and the toasted walnuts and toss.
To make the Burgers:
1. In a small grill-safe saucepan, heat the White Merlot until warm. Add Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ cup dried cherries. Set aside for 10-15 minutes for the cherries to rehydrate.
2. Add the wine-cherry mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, fennel seeds, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Pulse 4-5 times until ingredients are mixed but mixture is not quite smooth.
3. Add the cherry mixture to the ground chuck. Gently mix together, taking care not to compress the meat, and form into 6 patties. Slightly indent about 2″ in the center of each patty. This will disappear when the burgers are cooked. Set aside until ready to grill.
To make the Cherry Chutney:
1. Melt butter in a large grill-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the minced ginger and saute for 1 minute. Add the light brown sugar and five-spice powder and saute for 1 minute. Add the chopped onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onions are almost translucent. Add the chopped pepperoncini and the liquid and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
2. Add 1 cup chopped fresh cherries and mix well. Set aside to cool.
To make the Yogurt-Cheese Spread:
1. Put the Greek yogurt, queso fresco, 1.5 teaspoons lime zest, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a blender or food processor. Pulse until well-blended and smooth.
2. Pour mixture into a small bowl. Gently fold in Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ cup chopped fresh cherries.
To assemble and serve:
1. Oil grill rack. Grill patties over med-high heat, 3-5 minutes per side. Do not press on the patties while they are grilling as this releases juice and its delicious flavor. Set aside on warming rack to rest while toasting the buns.
2. Brush cut side of buns with olive oil. Toast over medium heat until light golden brown.
3. Apply a generous layer of the yogurt-cheese spread to the cut side of bun bottoms and tops. Lay the patties on the bun bottoms. Spoon equal portions of chutney onto each burger. Top with a handful of fennel-leek salad and crown with bun tops.