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Mountain Mint Burgers with Gorgonzola and Spiced Huckleberry Sauce

Mint and onions grow wild in the Rocky Mountains and along our rivers and creek beds, and were used by the nomadic Blackfeet, Crow and Cree Indian Tribes of Montana to flavor their stewed meats. They also used wild berries in their Pemmican (a sort of dried meat and berry trail bar) to add carbohydrates and flavor. These Northwestern ingredients are inspirations for this recipe, especially, since I’m creating the recipe during huckleberry season, and ducking the bears while foraging. The sweet but tangy, Huckleberry Jams are available commercially from the North Pacific side of the country all the way to the mountains of the North East, but can be substituted with Blueberry Jam to which a little citrus has been added.


Ingredients for Huckleberry Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
1 cup ketchup
1 cup huckleberry jam, or blueberry jam
3/4 teaspoon spicy seasoned salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Sutter Home Merlot, reduced to 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Asian Chili Garlic Sauce
½ teaspoon ground allspice
Ingredients for Patties:
1 ½ pound freshly ground chuck
1 teaspoon spicy seasoned salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Merlot
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Asian Chili Garlic Sauce
2 tablespoons minced sweet onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Grill Rack
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
Ingredients for Assembly:
6 Herbed Cheese Rolls, at least
4 inches in diameter, sliced in half
1 bag Baby Spring Greens Mix


For Spiced Huckleberry Sauce: Prepare grill to medium high heat. In medium-sized fire-proof saucepan, heat olive oil and add onions. Stir and cook until onions begin to brown. Add ketchup, huckleberry jam, seasoned salt, balsamic vinegar, Merlot reduction, Dijon Mustard, Chili Garlic Sauce and allspice to the onions. Stir constantly until sauce bubbles and thickens. Reduce grill heat to low and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside for burger assembly. For Patties: In large mixing bowl, quickly break ground chuck into smaller chunks. Sprinkle seasoned salt, fresh mint, parsley, Merlot, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Chili Garlic Sauce, and minced onions over the top of the meat chunks. Use a fork to stir the ingredients together. Place meat onto baking sheet and divide into six portions with a knife. Wet hands with water and quickly pat each portion into a patty that is ½ inch thick in the middle and ¾ inch around the edges, taking care not to compress the meat too much or over- handle. Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Brush grill-rack with olive oil. Place patties on grill rack and grill for about 4 inches on each side, depending on desired level of doneness and only turning burgers once. During the last 2 minutes of grilling time, spoon crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese in the center of each burger, dividing the cheese between the six patties. Remove the patties from the grill to rest for 2-3 minutes before assembly. While the meat rests, place the bun, split side down around the outer edges of the grill to lightly toast. To assemble the burgers: Place one grilled patty on top of each bottom bun and top with a small handful of baby greens. Spread a liberal amount of the spiced huckleberry sauce on the top bun and place the bun over the greens and patties. Serve immediately Makes 6 burgers