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Gorgozola Garlic Burgers with Drunk Onions

Introduction I went to high school in Cupertino, CA - which is downwind from Gilroy, CA - which is, of course, the garlic capital of the world. During certain times of the year the wind would blow the smell of garlic all over town and my mouth just watered. That's where my love of garlic started. Then I moved to Kansas, so I could go to KU. While in school I worked in an Italian restaurant that was classy enough to have cheeses I couldn't pronounce, but humble enough to let me, an ignorant student, come up with the daily pizza specials. It was there that I learned that everything's better with cheese - especially cheese I had to learn to pronounce. I also learned the value of an onion. I moved around some, after that. I traveled and ate everything, everywhere. It was in this stage I began to understand the importance of a good sauce - a good condiment - a good "extra" that isn't really extra. I learned that a place is often defined by its ingredients and its ingredients are often best highlighted in its sauces. Finally, I moved to Kansas City. Only once I was here did I begin to truly appreciate the burger as a culinary palette. In New York people can talk about the best way to get from Point A to Point B for hours. In Chicago people might compare the latest exhibition or public art installation. In San Francisco people talk about the intersection of art and politics. In Kansas City, we talk about burgers. Where the best burger restaurants are, what the best grilling strategy is, who's winning the bbq showdowns, where to find the best summer tomatoes to put on the's a never-ending conversation that connects the whole city. So here I began to put it all together. And that's where this burger comes from.


(Please note that shitake mushrooms and garlic are listed twice) Garlic-Mushroom-Tomato Mayonnaise
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped shitake mushrooms
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
Drunk Onions
1/4 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon works well)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 medium chopped red onion
2 lbs. ground beef
6 ounces gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup chopped shitake mushrooms
5 cloves of chopped garlic
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 Onion Rolls
Sliced avocado


To make the garlic-mushroom-tomato mayonnaise combine the mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and dill in a blender or food processor until well blended. Add the mayo and blend until everything is evenly incorporated. Refrigerate until serving. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the drunk onions combine the red wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small fire-proof saucepan. When the brown sugar is totally dissolved add the onions. Let the onions simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes a little sticky. When the liquid looks like syrup remove the pan from the grill and set aside to cool. To make the patties combine the gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, garlic, salt and red pepper in a large bowl. Add 3/4 of the cooked onions and the beef. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls. Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and grill until browned on the bottoms, 4 - 5 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling, cooking until done to preference. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, top side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble the burgers, put a generous amount of the garlic-mushroom-tomato mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. Place the patties on the bottom roll, then enough spinach to reach the edges of the roll and a generous amount of avocado slices. Add a sprinkle of the leftover onions and a dash of salt. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers


This burger has sparked much debate in my circle of friends - half of them think it's better with pickles and half think pickles are disastrous. I enjoy it both ways. I have left them off in order to keep my ingredient list to 16, but I'm not sure that the option shouldn't be on the table. So - if I win (or if this recipe even makes it to a website) and these comments get posted, try it with pickles. Bread and butter ones are good, but I like really vinegar-y homemade ones on it the best.