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Indy 500 Ratatouille Burger

Having lived in the Midwest all my life, I live for spring and summer. In Indianapolis the annual summer kick-off is the Indy 500, which inspired the sweet-hot sauce for the burgers and is also represented in the intense flavor of the smoked Gouda. Indiana, and the Midwest, are still known for their farming communities and this is represented in the Ratatouille portion of the burger. The eggplant, onions and green pepper add great flavor. It’s also a great way to sneak some veggies into the kid’s diets! Of all the burgers I’ve made, this is the favorite of my middle son who is my pickiest eater. There’s nothing better in Indiana in the summer than grilling out and enjoying the weather along with family and friends.

Ingredients 

Red Wine Bacon Barbecue Sauce
2 slices good quality bacon, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup good red wine, such as Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Sriracha, hot chili sauce
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Patties
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup peeled, diced eggplant
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 tablespoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon fresh ground coriander
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
3 tablespoons red wine, such as Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
2 pounds ground chuck
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground, or to taste

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
1 large zucchini
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 slices smoked Gouda
6 good quality, soft Kaiser rolls, split
6 large tomato slices

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the sauce, cook the bacon in a small, heavy nonstick fire-proof saucepan over medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes, until it begins to crisp. Stir occasionally. Add the onion to the pan and cook another 5-8 minutes, until softened. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the mustard, ketchup, honey, Sriracha, coriander and thyme. Cook at medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the grill, cover and set aside.

To make the patties, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, onion and green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, coriander and fennel. Cook for 1 minute and then add the 3 tablespoons red wine. Cook another minute then remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine the ground chuck, salt, pepper and the cooled eggplant mixture, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 equal patties to fit the bun size.

For the garnish, cut the stem and tip off the zucchini. Cut it in half crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick slices, cutting a thin sliver off the two outer sides so all slices will lie flat. In medium bowl toss the zucchini slices with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

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, 5-7 minutes on each side for medium. While the burgers are cooking quickly grill the zucchini slices, about 1 minute per side, until tender, yet still crisp. Remove to a plate. Place the cheese slices on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble the burgers, spread sauce on both sides of the buns. Place a tomato slice on the bun bottoms, followed by a cheese-topped patty, then 2 slices of zucchini. Add the bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

While there may seem to be lots of ingredients and steps, much of it can be assembled ahead. Once the vegetables and herbs are chopped you're ready to roll! Enjoy the rest of the Cabernet Sauvignon with the burgers.