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Grilled Balsamic Eggplant-Parm Brisket Burger w/Roasted Garlic & Cabernet Sauvignon Marinara

Eggplant parmesan is one of my very favorite meals and with the abundance of fresh produce during the summer, I imagined how this Italian influenced dish might be incorporated with a delicious grilled brisket burger. I would add a balsamic vinegar & wine marinade to both Heirloom tomato slices and eggplant that I would grillI instead of fry. I envisioned both melted Provolone and shaved Parmesan cheeses layered between meat and veggies, as well as beautiful red leaf lettuce, applewood smoked bacon and garden fresh basil leaves and nestle all of these between blankets of a roasted garlic and Cabernet Sauvignon infused marinara smeared on toasted Kaiser buns! This vision became reality and the result is a truly flavorful burger that will take your mind straight to the Mediterranean with each sweet and savory bite!

Ingredients 

2 heads garlic, roasted, divided
1/2 teaspoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

BALSAMIC MARINADE
3 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Colavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 large eggplant, sliced into 6 quarter-inch rounds
6 half-inch slices of large heirloom tomato/tomatoes

6 slices thick cut applewood smoked bacon

ROASTED GARLIC & CABERNET SAUVIGNON MARINARA
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced baby portabella mushrooms
1 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
1/3 cup beef stock plus 3 tablespoons extra if needed
6 ounce can high-quality organic tomato paste
2 tablespoons sun dried tomato concentrate
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

PATTIES
2 1/2 pounds ground brisket (25 percent fat)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup vegetable oil for grill racks
6 thick cut slices smoke-flavored Provolone cheese slices
6 Kaiser rolls, split
6 red leaf lettuce leaves
1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese
18 fresh large basil leaves

Instructions 

Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat. Chill the ground brisket and a large stainless steel bowl until needed. Slice off the pointed tops of the two garlic heads to expose all garlic cloves. Set each head onto a small piece of Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil, about 6 inch square, and drizzle each with 1/4 teaspoon oil and sprinkle each with 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt. Gather the foil around the garlic and close at the top and place each garlic bundle onto the uppermost warming rack of the grill and remove them after 30 minutes. If grill has no warming rack, turn off 1 grill burner and place there to cook over indirect heat.

Next, make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon, lime juice, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and 2 teaspoons salt. Whisk until thoroughly blended then divide marinade into two (2) one-gallon sized resealable freezer storage bags and add the sliced eggplant to one bag and the sliced tomatoes to the other. Seal bags, forcing air out, and turn several times to coat the veggies. Set aside, but turn the bags after 10 minutes.

Use a 12" cast iron skillet on the grill and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels and drain, cut in half, cover and set aside.

To make the Marinara, move the skillet w/bacon drippings to the side burner on medium heat and add the onions and mushrooms and saute, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon and cook for a minute, then add the beef stock, tomato paste, sun dried tomato concentrate, anchovy paste, oregano, thyme and basil. Squeeze 1 head of roasted garlic out of its paper skin into the skillet and mix well. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce cook down for 15-20 minutes, adding more beef stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, if it becomes too thick. If no side burner on the grill is available, turn off 1 grill burner and place there to cook over indirect heat for the listed time. Remove to the side of grill and cover until needed.

To make the patties, add the cold ground brisket to the chilled bowl, squeeze 1 head of roasted garlic out of it's paper skin into the bowl and sprinkle on the 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix thoroughly with a large mixing spoon and divide into 6 equal portions and form into patties which are slightly indented in the center.

Turn all grill burners to high. Using long tongs, soak folded paper towels into a bowl with vegetable oil and rub onto the grill racks. Place eggplant slices on one side and patties on the other and grill both for 4-5 minutes per side, turning only once, with grill cover closed. After turning the patties, add the provolone slices the last 2 minutes. Place an eggplant slice on top of the patties with cheese, then remove the patties to a work surface and loosely cover with a foil tent. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the grill racks and lightly toast. Use tongs to remove tomato slices from the marinade onto a plate.

To assemble, spread generous amounts of the marinara onto the cut side of each roll piece. Add a patty with cheese and eggplant to each bottom roll, then a piece of lettuce to each (tear into pieces if very large), a tomato slice, 2 half-pieces of bacon each, equal amounts of the shaved parmesan, 3 basil leaves each and then the roll tops. Insert a wooden skewer into each half of each burger and then cut in half to serve.

Comments 

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and the same is true in the culinary world of food design and creation. When it's necessary to create a new dish I often begin the concept by taking a Classic dish and recreating it in an unexpected new way, and so a classic Eggplant Parmesan has been reinvented as a burger! This was a successful melding of two classic meals into one. The use of the Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon to both the marinade and the marinara gave a depth of flavor that goes so well with beef and vegetables. This scores a "10" in my cookbook creations!