Wine Varietal: Pinot Noir
3/4 cup granulated maple sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso
5 teaspoons apple juice
12 slices thick-cut (1/8″) natural hickory-smoked bacon
3/4 cup quality mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I prefer Lea & Perrins)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper (I prefer McCormick brand)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck, 80/20
1 pound ground sirloin
2 tablespoons coffee-based dry rub (I prefer Java Gourmet brand)
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 – 1/4″ slices large Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
1/3 cup Creole Honey Mustard Sauce (I prefer Dinosaur BBQ brand)
6 slices sharp white cheddar cheese (1 ounce each)
6 Kaiser rolls, split (rolls with a slightly chewy crust and tender interior)
6 large leaves red leaf lettuce, torn to fit the rolls
6 – 1/4″ slices large beef steak tomatoes
• Prepare a medium indirect heat fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to indirect medium heat. (Internal grill temperature should be between 350° and 375ºF.)
• To prepare the bacon, in a small bowl, mix together maple sugar, espresso and apple juice. When the grill is ready, lay bacon strips side-by-side on a sheet pan lined with foil and place pan on grill rack. Close cover and cook bacon for 22 to 25 minutes, rotating pan and draining as necessary, until bacon is slightly crisp. Using a small spoon, drizzle slices with half of the maple mixture and cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle with remaining maple sauce and cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes longer or until bacon is crisp and sauce is caramelized. Cool slightly, (sauce will firm as bacon cools), cut slices in half crosswise and set aside.
• Meanwhile, to make the mayonnaise, in a small bowl mix together mayonnaise, sage, cranberries, garlic and lemon zest, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
• To make the patties, in a small bowl, mix together onion, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper and salt. Spread the chuck and sirloin out in a large shallow pan and, using a fork, evenly mix sauce mixture into meat. Shape the mixture into 6 equal patties to fit the rolls. Sprinkle each patty evenly with rub, about 3/4 teaspoon per side, pressing rub slightly into surface. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.
• Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
• To make the onions, when the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place onion slices on the grill rack and, using a basting brush, brush with half of the honey mustard sauce. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly soft and charred on the bottom. Turn slices, brush with remaining mustard, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, tent with foil and keep warm.
• To cook the patties, scrape down grill rack as necessary and brush with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook, turning once, until cooked to preference, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, add cheese slices and then 4 bacon halves to each burger and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
• To assemble the burgers, on each roll bottom place an equal portion of lettuce followed by a cheese and bacon-topped patty. Add an equal portion of onion slices and then tomato slices. Spread the cut side of the roll tops evenly with mayonnaise, add the roll tops and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.