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Pepper Jelly Munster Burgers with Red Zinfandel Wine Reduction

Hello, my name is Sandy and this will be my first ever submission to a recipe contest. I have always loved to cook and owe this passion and talent to my belated-mother. Growing up in the 60's-70's I was a member of the local 4-H and especially loved when we would exhibit our cooking skills in front of judges at the annual Monroe County Fair. I guess this was when I first realized that I loved to cook. One of the simplest, yet very unusual party cracker spreads that my mother would make was cream cheese and hot pepper jelly served on crisp water crackers. The cold cream cheese combined with the sweet, hot and spicy jelly contrast was delicious when topped to the crisp crunch of the cracker. This unusual combination was the inspiration behind my Pepper Jelly Munster Burgers. To give this combination a bit more sophistication, I thought that the flavor of the burger itself could be heightened with a wine reduction, and keeping with the "peppery" theme I found that Sutter Homes' Red Zinfandel with its natural pepper overtones to be a perfect match. I hope the flavor combinations are as enjoyable to you as they have been to my many friends and family that have been my taste-testers over the past few weeks.


Red Zinfandel Wine Reduction:
1 cup Sutter Home Red Zinfandel wine
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cream Cheese Jalapeno Pepper Jelly Spread:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons Hot Jalapeno Pepper Jelly (green in color)
2 lbs. freshly ground chuck, 80% lean
1/2 cup Red Zinfandel Wine Reduction
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for brushing the grill rack
6 Kaiser salted & seeded rolls (4-1/2" thick)
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 (1-ounce) slices Munster cheese
4 tablespoons Dijonnaise (prepared mayonnaise-Dijon mustard spread)
6 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and crisped, and broken in half
6 (1/4") slices red onion


Prepare medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the Red Zinfandel wine reduction, in a medium grill-proof saucepan combine wine, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil over direct heat. Turn down to low or move to outter rim of grill and let simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (approximately 10-15 minutes). Remove saucepan from the heat, strain liquid into a glass-measuring cup and discard the chopped ingredients. Return liquid to the saucepan and place back over heat. Whisk in butter until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer mixture back into glass measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap and let cool on counter until ready to use. To make the cream cheese jalapeno pepper jelly spread, place the softened cream cheese into a small bowl and add the jalapeno pepper jelly. Beat mixture with an electric hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Place the bowl into the refrigerator until ready to use. If needed, replenish charcoal in grill and bring back up to medium-hot fire. To make the patties, place the ground chuck in a large bowl. Stir the Red Zinfandel wine reduction mixture in glass measuring cup to recombine if separated, then pour directly over ground meat. To this mixture add the chives, salt and freshly ground pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible gently toss ingredients together with your hands. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, placing atop 6 square pieces of wax paper, and shape into thick patties, without compressing too firmly. When the grill is ready, brush the rack lightly with vegetable oil. Remove the wax paper from each patty, place each burger directly over charcoal or direct heat source. Grill patties for 4-5 minutes, gently turn over and grill another 4-5 mintues. While the burgers are cooking, slice each Kaiser roll in half and brush each cut side with melted butter. Place Kaiser rolls cut side down onto grill and toast until golden brown but not burned. Remove from grill and place cut side up onto serving dish. When burgers reach an internal temperature of 150-degrees with an instant read thermometer, top each with one slice of Munster cheese, cover grill and continue to cook just until cheese melts. Remove patties to a clean dish and set in a warm place while buns are being assembled. To assemble the burgers, spread two generous tablespoons of the cream cheese jalapeno pepper jelly spread to the cut side of each Kaiser roll top. To the roll bottoms, spread each cut side with two teaspoons of Dijonnaise; cover this with two halves of romaine lettuce, a slice of red onion and top with the Munster cheeseburger. Cover burgers with the prepared tops and serve immediately. Makes 6 burgers.