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Brian's Big Bad Crunchburger

What's a Crunchburger? It's a one-of-a kind burger that combines succulent seasoned beef with the distinctive sharpness of aged gouda cheese and the crispy crunch of freshly fried onion rings, all topped with a 'secret' but simple sauce. Smoked paprika provides a subtle, smoky tang that enhances the beef flavor. Sutter Home Chardonnay adds a flavorful punch to the onion rings. Sliced lettuce and tomato provide additional flavor, texture and color. My son Brian, a burger connoisseur, loves these burgers and so I named this creation after him. Bon appetit!


2 pounds ground chuck, 80% lean
3 & 1/4 tsp seasoned salt, divided
3 tsp smoked sweet paprika, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 lb piece of aged gouda cheese
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tsp chili powder
1 & 1/2 cups canola oil
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rings
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg whites
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Sutter Home Chardonnay
Vegetable oil for brushing on grill surface
6 egg knot dinner/hamburger rolls, or other egg-based dinner rolls with shiny surface, sliced


To prepare the beef patties, crumble the ground beef into a large bowl. Combine 1 ¼ tsp seasoned salt, 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the beef with ½ of the combined seasonings and toss lightly to mix. Add the remaining ½ of seasonings and toss until well distributed through the crumbled ground beef. Lightly shape seasoned beef into six patties approximately ½” thick. If needed, flatten out by hatchmarking with the side of a metal spatula (do not squish flat between your hands or you might pack the meat too much). Place on a plate or tray, cover, and set aside. Cut the piece of aged gouda into slices/slivers 1/8” to ¼” thick. Place slices on a plate and set aside until needed. Prepare sauce by combining and mixing 1 cup ketchup, ½ cup light mayonnaise and 1 Tbsp chili powder. Cover and refrigerate until needed. To prepare the onion rings: Place a 10” cast iron skillet on the grill. Pour 1 ½ cup of canola oil into the skillet. The oil will be approximately 1 inch deep. Turn on the gas grill to its High setting. Close the grill cover and let it heat until the thermometer on the grill cover reaches 400 degrees F. If your grill does not have a thermometer on the cover, heat the oil until it reaches 375 – 400 degrees using a kitchen thermometer. Prepare the onion rings while the oil is heating. Place the sliced onion into a bowl and separate into individual rings. Sprinkle with ½ tsp seasoned salt and ½ tsp smoked sweet paprika, tossing the onion to make sure that seasonings are evenly distributed. Prepare flour mixture by combining 1 cup flour, 1 ½ tsp seasoned salt, ½ tsp smoked sweet paprika and ¼ tsp ground black pepper in a deep bowl. Prepare milk mixture by whisking 3 egg whites in a deep bowl until bubbly. Add ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup Sutter Home Chardonnay wine. Whisk to combine. A few rings at a time, dip onion rings into milk mixture and then toss into the flour mixture. Toss with a fork in the flour mixture until they are thoroughly coated. Repeat the process, dipping the rings once again quickly into the milk mixture and then tossing them in the flour mixture. Place on a baking sheet, keeping the onion rings separated. Continue until all of the onion rings have been dipped twice in the milk mixture and twice in the flour mixture. Sprinkle with leftover flour mixture and set aside. Cover a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Once the grill temperature has reached 400 degrees, open the grill hood and start frying the onion rings in two or three batches. Use a large serving fork or similar utensil to place a single layer of onion rings into the oil without crowding them. Fry for 30 seconds and then turn each ring over. When the rings are light tan and crispy, with some golden flecks, remove onion rings from oil and place on paper towels to drain. After the first batch, close the grill hood and wait until the temperature returns to 375 - 400 degrees before frying the second batch of onion rings. When all of the onion rings have been fried, remove the skillet from the grill using a heavy oven mitt. Place it on a non-flammable surface and allow oil to cool before disposing of it. Brush the grill surface with vegetable oil. Place patties on the grill and cook, without turning, for 2 ½ minutes. Move the patties around with a spatula to encourage flaring up and searing of the patties. After 2 ½ minutes, turn the patties. Place several slices of aged gouda slices on each pattie (be generous!) and close the grill hood. Cook the patties for an additional 2 ½ minutes. Move the patties around if needed to prevent excessive flaring up and searing. During this time while cheese is melting, place sliced rolls on the grill, sliced side down, until they are lightly toasted. Remove and place on a tray, sliced side up. After patties are cooked, turn off the grill and move patties to the upper shelf rack to keep warm. Spread both inside/cut surfaces of the toasted rolls with sauce. Place 1 piece of romaine lettuce on each bottom roll, then 1 slice of tomato. Place the burgers on top of the tomato slices. Place 3 or 4 fried onion rings on top of the burger, drizzle with sauce, close the rolls and serve.


In order to make the onion rings using a charcoal grill, build a medium/hot fire first, then place the skillet on the grill and follow instructions given above. Onion rings can be prepared for frying (dipped in milk and flour mixtures) several hours in advance, if desired. They should not be fried in advance, however, as they will lose some crispness over time.