Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
These burgers will make you stand up and say “Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!” (or bleu!)
What is more representative of America than the colors of our flag: red, white, and blue? This “Old Glory”-inspired burger features components to represent each of the flag’s three colors, even if I did take a few liberties (no pun intended) with the “blue.” You never really think about how few blue-colored foods there are in existence until you try to incorporate one into a burger, so I needed to be creative!
I currently live in Nevada, but I spent half of my childhood in Texas. The Lone Star State’s flag also uses the colors red, white, and blue, so this burger is equally inspired by the cuisine of my former state. The RED is represented by the Tomato-Bacon Barbecue Sauce. Texans are known for their skill at the barbecue, and the pepper bacon in the sauce adds a nice smoky layer of flavor. The WHITE is represented by the Chipotle White Bean Puree, sort of a Texas twist on hummus, with fresh cilantro, spicy chipotle, and garlic accents. Finally, the BLUE, or in this case the “Bleu,” is represented by American-made Maytag Bleu Cheese. Beef and bleu cheese go hand in hand, and Texans love their beef, so the choice of meat and cheese for this burger was pretty easy. The patties also contain some ground Texas pecans, representing the state tree. Bleu cheese pairs nicely with nuts in salads, so I thought that they would make a nice flavor addition to the patties.
For the RED Tomato-Bacon Barbecue Sauce:
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons Colavita olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices center-cut thick pepper bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
For the Smoky WHITE Bean Puree:
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
2 cloves peeled fresh garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/3 cup Colavita olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
For the Burger Patties:
2 pounds ground chuck
1 cup very finely chopped lightly toasted Texas pecans
1/3 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil for brushing the grill rack
8 ounces crumbled Maytag BLEU cheese
6 Kaiser rolls, split
Recipe serves 6
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
Prepare the Tomato Bacon Barbecue Sauce: In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place a 12-inch fireproof or cast iron skillet on the grill rack over medium-hot heat. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and roast, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes start to char and are popping, 6-8 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes back to the bowl and wipe out the skillet. Place the skillet back on the grill rack and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until the fat has mostly rendered and the bacon begins to crisp. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, stirring frequently, 4 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, Zinfandel, Worcestershire, and crushed red pepper. Add the roasted tomatoes and mash them with the back of a rubber spatula or spoon. Simmer the sauce for 4-5 minutes longer to thicken, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
Prepare the white bean puree. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, Tabasco, olive oil, and cilantro in the work bowl of a food processor or mini chopper. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and set aside.
Prepare the patties: In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, pecans, shallot, Zinfandel, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.
Grill the patties: Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook, turning once, 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. During the last few minutes of grilling, divide the cheese on top of the patties to warm and place the rolls, cut sides down, around the circumference of the grill to lightly toast.
Assemble the burgers: Spread the bottom halves of the rolls with a thick layer of the white bean puree. Spread the top halves of the rolls with a generous layer of the tomato-bacon sauce. Top the white bean puree with a patty and the top halves of the rolls. Serve immediately.