RECIPES: Recipe Details

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New–Fashioned American Drive–In Cheeseburgers

The 2004 Finalist burger recipe pairs perfectly with Sutter Home Pinot Noir.

Makes 6 burgers

Special Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 gherkin pickles, finely diced
1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


3 pounds freshly ground Angus beef chuck
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Olive oil
Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
6 1/4-inch-thick sharp Cheddar cheese slices
6 Kaiser rolls, split
3 tablespoons softened butter
6 Boston lettuce leaves
1 large ripe Beefsteak tomato, sliced


To prepare the Special Sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and keep chilled until serving time.

In a grill, prepare a hot fire for direct-heat cooking.

For the burgers, in a large bowl, combine beef with salt, handling meat as gently as possible. Form 6 four-inch diameter patties. Sprinkle both sides of patties with pepper.

Brush both sides of onion slices with olive oil. Place slices on the hot grill. Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until softened and golden brown all over. Remove to a platter.

Rub grill rack with oil. Place burger patties on grill. Cook 4 minutes; flip patties with a spatula. Cook 4 more minutes for medium-rare, or to desired doneness. During the last few minutes of cooking, place a slice of cheese over each patty. Cover the grill and cook until cheese melts. Remove to a platter.

Place rolls on the grill until toasted lightly. Spread each half with some butter.

To assemble each burger, place a lettuce leaf on each roll bottom, followed by a tomato slice, a patty, a large pinch of onions, a generous tablespoon of sauce, and roll top. Take a big bite and enjoy!


Hamburgers became synonymous with all-American food 100 years ago at the St. Louis World’s Fair, and years after that, became the original “fast food.” During the postwar years, Americans took to the highways in their beloved automobiles and the popularity of road food was born.

Today, there are a few old-fashioned drive-in restaurants remaining. They serve up great feelings of nostalgia along with their made-to-order burgers, and to many minds, these burgers are the real thing. The New-Fashioned American Drive-in Cheeseburger was created to commemorate the taste of a hot, juicy roadside burger. The focus is on the beefy taste, but what moves it into the 21st century is a twist on the traditional accompaniments. The Special Sauce incorporates classic burger condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles—the original World’s Fair burger was topped with a mustard-flavored mayonnaise—but is accented with modern tastes such as fresh tarragon, basil, and parsley. With a half pound of beef per sandwich, topped with cheese and sweet grilled onions, the end result is a big, hearty burger—a celebration of America’s favorite sandwich.