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Big Sky Burgers (with Smoky Wild Mushroom Relish, Walnut-Sage Pesto adn Blue Cheese-Chive Spread)

Growing up in San Diego, I’m not even sure I knew exactly where Montana was, but I did know it was part of the Wild West and the land of cowboys. Having lived here for over ten years, I now know it’s the place of prairies and mountains, where the mountains seem to touch the sky, and the sky is neverending. My "Big Sky Burgers" are a tribute to this unique place. For these burgers, I’ve incorporated many local offerings of the area – Montana beef (the first thing you think of when you think Montana cuisine), fragrant fresh sage, wild mushrooms, etc. These juicy burgers, like Montana itself, are robust and laden with an earthy richness drawn from the hearty spirit of the West. Guaranteed to please a passel of hungry cowboys!

Ingredients 

Patties:
2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 tablespoon Weber Grill Creations Gourmet Burger
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
1/2 cup drained and chopped (oil packed) sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup grated red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt

Blue Cheese-Chive Spread:
6 ounces chive and onion flavored cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Treasure Cave Crumbled Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola

Walnut-Sage Pesto:
1/2 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup fresh sage leaves, firmly packed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste

Smoky Wild Mushroom Relish:
3 ounces diced thick-cut applewood smoked bacon
2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 ounces coarsely chopped wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, etc.)
1 finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup Sutter Home Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
2 teaspoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
Salt, to taste

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 Kaiser or good-quality hamburger rolls, split
6 red leaf lettuce leaves

Instructions 

Preheat a gas grill to medium-hot or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.

To make the patties, combine the beef chuck, Weber Grill Creations Seasoning, wine, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, rosemary, and salt in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the Blue Cheese-Chive Spread, in small bowl, stir together cream cheese and blue cheese until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the Walnut-Sage Pesto, heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the walnuts and toast until golden (do not let burn). Place walnuts, sage, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan in food processor; process until finely chopped. With machine running slowly add the olive oil until blended. Season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the Smoky Wild Mushroom Relish, in same skillet as used for walnuts, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Drain off bacon fat from skillet and return to grill. Add olive oil and cook mushrooms and shallot until soft and most of liquid is evaporated. Deglaze pan with wine; cook until liquid is almost fully absorbed. Stir in Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce and remove from heat. Add bacon; keep warm.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last few minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread the Blue Cheese-Chive Spread over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, layer lettuce, beef patty, a tablespoon or two of Walnut-Sage Pesto, and an equal amount of the Smoky Wild Mushroom Relish. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

While this recipe may seem like it requires a number of ingredients and steps, each component is as straightforward and direct as Montanans themself! This boldly flavored burger is perfectly complemented by a glass (or two) of Sutter Home Pinot Noir or Sutter Home
Zinfandel.