RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Beef Tenderloin Burgers with Bacon & Grilled Onion Soup Rings

Since the recent completion of my PhD program at Cornell University, I'm taking time to enter your contest once again.
My challenge was to create a unique recipe combining the ingredients of two of my favorite dishes; bacon wrapped beef tenderloin and baked French onion soup. Obviously, I had to eliminate the soup, but incorporate it's flavors as best I could. I experimented and came up with the following recipe.

Ingredients 

6 (1/2-inch-thick) large slices peeled sweet onion
1-1/4 cups canned or homemade beef broth
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
2 tablespoons butter
4 (3-1/2 to 4-inch) thyme sprigs
1 medium-size fresh (or dried) bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices regular-cut bacon
1-1/4 pounds trimmed lean ground beef tenderloin
1 pound ground beef chuck (20% fat)
2-1/4 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 sourdough rolls, split
Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
6 approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices Gruyere cheese
3 cups (about 3-ounces) loosely packed watercress, tough ends discarded
1 tablespoon bottled or homemade oil & red wine vinegar dressing

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Insert toothpicks into onion slices to hold together; set aside.
Combine beef broth, Zinfandel, butter, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper together in a fire-proof large deep skillet. When grill is ready, place skillet on grill grate; heat to hot, and butter has melted and blended into the mixture, stirring occasionally. Carefully add secured onion slices; cook for 5 minutes. Remove skillet, cover, and set aside, allowing onions to steep in the broth.
Place the bacon in a large fire-proof skillet and cook on the grill rack until crisp tender, turning as necessary. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard fat; wipe out skillet and set aside. When bacon has cooled, enclose slices in a large piece of aluminum foil; set aside.
To make the patties, spread the beef out in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it; mix in Zinfandel. Divide the mixture into 6 equal (6-ounce) portions, and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.
Lightly brush butter over split sides of rolls. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside.
Generously brush grill rack with oil. With large slotted spatula, remove onions from beef broth mixture (strain and reserve broth); place secured onion slices on grill rack. Cover, and cook, basting with reserved broth for 4-6 minutes, turning once, or to desired preference of tenderness. Place on large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil; cool just enough to handle. Remove and discard toothpicks; separate slices into rings; enclose in foil; set aside.
If necessary, brush grill rack with additional oil; place patties on grill rack. Cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, or 5-7 minutes each side for medium (depending on thickness of patties), basting patties with French onion soup mixture before adding cheese. During the last few minutes of cooking, top each patty with 1 slice Gruyere cheese. Place unwrapped foil packages of onion rings and bacon on outer edges of grill rack to warm. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and place, buttered side down, on edges of grill rack to toast lightly.
Meanwhile, toss watercress with the dressing in a medium-size bowl; set aside.
To assemble the burgers, arrange 1/2 cup watercress evenly over each of 6 split bottom rolls, buttered side up. Place burger, cheese side up, over watercress. Divide onion rings in equal portions over burgers, then top each with 2 bacon slices and a roll top, buttered side down.

Comments 

12 ingredients used; excluding salt, pepper and oil for brushing grill rack.
For easier preparation, precooked bacon slices could be substituted for the uncooked bacon, heated in a fire-proof skillet on the grill during the last few minutes of cooking burgers.
Ground chuck and/or sirloin can be substituted for the beef tenderloin.
Emmentaler cheese could be substituted for the Gruyere.