Servings: Makes 6 burgers
Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
I love the balance of sweet and savory with a little tart and smoke, so, of course, my home test kitchen opened to create a Strawberry BBQ Sauce. And wow this is a combination! Threw in bacon for a little more smoky flavor with my favorite cheese and there you have it.
Strawberry BBQ Sauce
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dark molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/4 pounds ground chuck (20% fat)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
12 strips thick-cut smoked bacon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
Remaining sliced strawberries from making sauce
4 ounces gorgonzola or or other blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil, for rubbing on the grill rack
6 thick slices Gruyere cheese
6 brioche hamburger buns, split
To make the sauce, place 2/3 of the strawberries in a blender; reserve the remaining berries for the salad. Add the tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the blender and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a fire-proof saucepan and place on a gas grill over medium-high heat. Add the molasses and brown sugar and bring to a slow boil, stirring often, then remove from the heat, cover with foil, and keep warm.
To make the patties, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well while handling the meat as little as possible; this prevents it from becoming too dense. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties leaving a slight indention in the center of patties; this allows the final product to be more equal in thickness when finished. Set aside until grilling.
Cook the bacon in a fire-proof skillet on the grill over medium-high heat until browned. Drain on paper towels to remove excess grease. Set aside.
To begin preparing the salad, combine the onion, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature to quick-pickle the onions. Combine the greens, basil, and remaining strawberries in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until assembling the burgers. Keep the crumbled cheese chilled until assembly.
Heat the grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready, with a paper or cloth towel, rub the grill rack with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the patties on the rack and cook until done to preference, 3 to 5 minutes. The top of the patty should look like it has cooked a little. Flip once and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Do not push down on the patty because this will release the juices. Top each patty with the BBQ sauce then a slice of the Gruyere cheese, cover the grill, and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove the patties from the grill and place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
To assemble the burgers, top each bun bottom with a patty and two strips of the bacon. Lightly drain the pickled onions, add to the mixed greens along with the crumbled cheese, and toss to combine. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and toss again lightly. Pile a handful of the salad on the top of each bacon-topped patty; if a few bits fall off, there is no problem—these are little treasures for later. Spread a little more BBQ sauce on the toasted sides of the bun tops and place on top of the salad.