Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
When I wanted to surprise my husband and friends with a super-tasty and memorable burger, I immediately thought of chipotles for their smoky depth of flavor, and blue cheese for its creamy tang.
12 slices thick-cut bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Chipotle Spice Rub:
2 tablespoons chipotle powder
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 canned chipotles in adobo, minced, seeds removed
1/4 cup chilled zinfandel
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground chuck, well-chilled
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing grill
6 ciabatta rolls (or other sturdy buns), sliced horizontally
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces Point Reyes Blue Cheese (or other creamy blue), divided into 6 portions
1 1/2 cups baby arugula
6 slices ripe tomato, very lightly seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
When grill is ready, cook bacon in a cast iron or other flame-proof skillet until cooked through; bacon should remain slightly flexible so the slices will drape attractively over the cooked patties. Drain bacon slices on paper towels and cover with foil.
To make the aioli, while bacon is cooking, whisk the mayonnaise, mashed garlic, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, chipotle pepper sauce, and kosher salt in a small bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the spice rub, thoroughly combine the chipotle powder, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl and set aside.
To make the patties, combine the onion, garlic, chipotles in adobo, zinfandel, kosher salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add the ground chuck and mix gently but thoroughly with a fork or large spoon (not your hands), taking care not to compact the meat. Rinse hands with cold water, then gently form the mixture into six equal patties sized to fit the buns and place on a foil-lined sheet. Using a spoon, sprinkle patties on each side with just enough of the spice rub to coat (you will have some spice rub left over for future use). Lightly pat in the rub. Using the back of a spoon, make a shallow dent in the center of each patty, to help keep the burger from developing a bulging middle when cooked. Cover patties loosely with foil and refrigerate until ready to grill.
To cook the patties, brush the grill rack with the vegetable oil to keep the meat from sticking. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium, depending on thickness. Transfer the patties to a clean baking sheet, top each with an equal portion of the blue cheese and criss-cross two bacon slices over the cheese. Tent loosely with foil to let patties rest while toasting the buns.
Lightly brush the cut sides of the ciabatta or other rolls with olive oil. Place the buns, cut side down, on the grill rack. Toast on one side for about 30 seconds to one minute, watching closely to avoid burning. Remove to a work surface.
To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the aioli on the bottom half of each bun. Top with 1/4 cup of arugula, followed by the cheese and bacon-covered patty, a slice of tomato, and the top half of the bun. Enjoy immediately.