Wine Varietal: Merlot
This burger captures my visits to the French countryside.There, I would have some of my best meals. Simple ingredients prepared to perfection. That was the motto that the cooks live by in rural France and that is the concept that I am aiming to capture in this burger. All of the flavors here, while very simple, all work together to produce one clean, transcendent burger flavor!
1/4 cup finely chopped cornichons, drained
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, crushed and finely minced (or pressed)
1 1/4 sticks good-quality unsalted butter, room temperature
Mâche Lardon Salad:
6 ounces pancetta (or bacon), cut into thin little matchsticks (AKA lardons)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 brioche bun, lightly toasted, diced
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons minced shallot
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chervil leaves (or flat-leaf parsley)
1 1/2 cups mâche (AKA Lamb’s Lettuce), tightly packed and chopped (available at Trader Joe’s)
Bleu Merlot Mushrooms:
1 cup water
1 cup dried assorted wild mushrooms
2 tablespoons good-quality unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup Sutter Home Merlot
1/4 cup crumbled Bleu d’Auvergne cheese (or Roquefort)
2 pounds ground lamb
1/4 cup finely minced shallot
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chervil leaves (or flat-leaf parsley)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
8 ounces Comte cheese, shredded
6 brioche hamburger buns
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
To make Cornichon Butter, in a small mixing bowl combine cornichons, Dijon mustard, garlic, and butter; mix until well combined.
To make Mâche Lardon Salad, heat a large fireproof skillet on the grill. Add pancetta and cook over medium-high heat, about 3-4 minutes. Drain pancetta on paper towels. Add 2 tablespoons oil (can keep rendered pancetta fat in skillet) and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add diced brioche bun and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until toasted and crispy, stirring frequently. Place bread on paper towels to drain. In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, champagne vinegar, shallot, and chervil; mix well. Add mache and pancetta; toss well to coat. Just before serving, add in fried bread; toss well to coat.
To make Bleu Merlot Mushrooms, bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add mushrooms and remove from heat. Let soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain and chop. Place large fireproof skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons butter and mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and rosemary; add Sutter Home Merlot. Cook over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in blue cheese. Remove from heat.
To make the patties, combine the lamb, shallot, chervil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, top the burgers with equal amounts of cheese and place the bread on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of Cornichon Butter on the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a layer of Bleu Merlot Mushrooms, a cheese-topped patty, and a generous amount of Mâche Lardon Salad. Add bun tops and serve.
Makes 6 servings.