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Burgers au Poivre with Vineyard Cheese Sauce

As much as I love summer, the heat and humidity of Virginia makes me reminisce the years I spent in Vermont, with the cool crisp air and snow-capped Green Mountains. This recipe is a summer version of a steakhouse cheese fondue that was my favorite dish to prepare after a rigorous day of cross-country skiing.


2 pounds ground beef (preferably half chuck and half sirloin)
3 tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground fresh black pepper
1 package prepared cheese fondue (most packages range from 10-14 ounces)
1/4 cup Colavita Olive oil, for brushing on the grill rack and French bread or rolls
1 large French baguette, cut into 6 equal pieces or 6 French rolls, sliced horizontally **
18-24 small tender baby spinach leaves


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high (or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover).

To make the patties, mix the ground beef, mustard, shallots, herbes de Provence, and salt together in a large bowl, handling the mixture as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the bread or rolls. Lightly press the peppercorns or ground pepper into both sides of each patty, distributing evenly.

Place the cheese fondue in a small fire-proof saucepan. When the grill is ready, bush the grill rack with olive oil. Place the patties on the grill, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium, depending on the shape and thickness. When turning the burgers, place the saucepan containing the cheese fondue toward the outer edge of the grill and heat, stirring frequently. Remove the sauce from the grill when warm and bubbly. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, brush the bread or rolls lightly with olive oil and place, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack until toasted lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place 3-4 spinach leaves on the bottom half of each French bread slice or roll and top each with a patty and generous portion of warm vineyard cheese sauce. Add the tops and serve.

** Remove ends and set aside to sample with the Vineyard Cheese Sauce along with a glass of your favorite Sutter Home wine while the burgers finish cooking.


This burger is one that pairs especially well with a dry white wine as well as a red wine. A glass of Sutter Home Chardonnay would echo the dry white wine contained in both the Dijon mustard and the prepared cheese fondue.