RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Vino Formaggio Pepe Burger ( wine-cheese-pepper )

I'm not a professional cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I love to grill and experiment. I love Italy and good Italian food. So it was only natural to my family when I came up with an Italian burger. Out of concern over possible repetition I looked through your historical recipes and saw there were some previous Italian type burgers listed. But none bring the wine, bread, cheeses, and flavor combinations together like mine. I hope you try it, and like it so much you’ll allow me to come cook it for you. Consumo felice! ( happy eating )


For the Wine-Pepper Glaze –
3 cups – Sutter Home Shiraz ( or could substitute Sutter Home Pinot Noir )
3 tablespoons – fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons – regular stick salted butter
1/2 cup – fresh grated parmesan cheese 1
2 – slices of bacon
For the Sautéed Onion Rings–
1 – large white onion
For the Grilled Tomato Slices –
6 – large roma tomatoes
1/2 cup – Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon – additional fresh ground black pepper
For the Patties –
4 – cloves garlic ( roasted preferred )
1/2 cup – sun-dried tomatoes which were packed in olive oil
2 lbs – fresh ground chuck
6 – slices provolone cheese
3 cups – shredded mozzarella cheese
For the Buns & final assembly-
6 - asiago sourdough rolls
12 tablespoons ( 1 1/2 sticks ) – additional regular stick salted butter ( for the rolls )
1/4 cup chopped – fresh basil leaves ( for the rolls )
1/4 cup – additional fresh grated parmesan cheese ( for the rolls ) 6 – romaine lettuce leaves
Vegetable oil for grill, either brush on or spray


Preparation checklist before grilling: Bring the grill temperature up to a good medium-hot heat for charcoal or medium-high heat on a gas grill. Set out the total required 2 sticks of butter to soften. Making the wine-pepper glaze and frying the bacon - Pour the 3 cups of Sutter Home Shiraz into a medium sauce pan. Place the sauce pan on the grill over to one side for easier heat control. Let slowly simmer and reduce to about 1 cup of liquid, usually about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. While waiting for the wine to reduce, take a medium fry pan, set on the grill next to the sauce pan, and fry the 12 bacon strips until they are very crisp. As you take your bacon off and it cools, crumble into large coarse pieces and set aside. Leave the bacon drippings in the fry pan. When the wine has finished reducing, add the pepper, butter, and parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until the butter has fully melted. Remove the sauce from the heat, cover, and set aside. Next, grill the veggies - Slice the onion into 1/2” thick slices. Pop out the middle 1/3 of each slice and discard. Pull the remaining rings apart. Now slice the roma tomatoes into 1/2” thick slices. Cover and set aside. Place the fry pan of bacon drippings back on the grill. When hot, place your onion rings in the fry pan and cook for about 6-8 minutes depending on your heat or until they begin to caramelize, but are still firm enough to hold their basic round shape. While the onions cook, take out your roma tomato slices. I might suggest you place them on a cake/cookie cooling rack if you don’t have a BBQ veggie grilling rack. The smaller grill spaces prevent the slices from falling through the grill slots and it makes for an easy on /off the grill. Apply vegetable oil to your rack(s) first to prevent sticking and then lay out your slices. Next drizzle about a 1/4 cup of olive oil over the tomato tops and sprinkle with about 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper. Place them on the grill next to your onion pan. Grill each side of the tomatoes for about 2 1/2 minutes. The olive oil will flash the flames so just move them around as needed to avoid burning. Flip them over and repeat the olive oil and pepper on the second side. ( For easy handling if you are using cooling racks, you could place a second one on top of the tomatoes and then flip both racks over ) Once you’ve started your tomatoes on the grill, be sure to go back and keep checking your onions so they don’t over cook, stirring them with a fork. When the onions are done, set them aside in a foil pouch. The same goes for the tomatoes. Grilling the patties - Rough chop the garlic cloves. Place them and the sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped, or finely chop by hand with a knife. Next place the ground chuck into a large mixing bowl. Gradually sprinkle your chopped mixture over the meat, incorporating it by hand as you go. This not only adds flavor to your patty but adds moistness while cooking. Try not to over work the meat or it will get too compacted. Form into 6 equal patties about 1” or so thick, and set aside. Place the pan of reduced wine sauce back over the grill’s heat just a few moments so it will thin a little and then remove. Apply vegetable oil over the grill’s surface. Place the meat patties on the grill and brush on about half of the wine pepper sauce. Cook for 4 minutes and turn them over. Brush the remaining sauce over the tops and cook for another 5 minutes for a medium burger. Try not to excessively flip the patties. Just before your patties are done, place a slice of provolone cheese on each patty. Next cover the cheese with a generous amount of the fried bacon pieces. Finally, cover those bacon bits with a generous mound of shredded mozzarella cheese. Close your lid just long enough for the cheese to melt. Then remove and cover with a loose foil tent. Preparing the buns - Take your asiago sourdough rolls and slice open if needed. Place the remaining 12 tablespoons of softened butter in a small bowl and cream with a spoon. Stir in the finely chopped basil. Now spread the basil butter onto the inside faces of your rolls/buns. Sprinkle the butter with a generous portion of the grated parmesan cheese and tamp the parmesan lightly by hand into the butter with a paper towel. Lower the heat on your grill a little. Place all the bun halves face down onto the grill, toasting them until they brown and the edges crisp. The butter drippings will flare the flames, so check them often and move them around on the grill away from direct flames to prevent the buns burning. Final assembly - Take out the romaine lettuce and cut off the bottom lower third ( stalk end ) of the leaves and discard. Now slice each leaf lengthwise down the center vein. Stack the leaves and cut them horizontally across the leaves into 1/2” wide slices. Take a patty from the foil tent and place it on the toasted roll bottom half, followed on top by 2-3 roma tomato slices, and then 3-4 caramelized onion rings. Finally sprinkle some of the shredded romaine lettuce on top, and crown with the roll’s top.


First, about the bun. I'm a bread fanatic so finding the right bun was very important to me. I had tried Panera Bread's asiago cheese sourdough loaves before with other meals and really liked the bread’s flavor and texture. The asiago is not only on the loaf but actually baked through the sourdough. I went in my local store and asked if they would consider taking that same dough and baking it into bun size rolls for me, and they agreed. So I feel this particular bread is the perfect marriage for my recipe. Each of their normal dough loaves make three perfect size buns / rolls. But in the event acquiring these is found to be too much hassle for your test kitchen, any good sourdough ( preferably cheesy) roll/bun will work. You just want a little of that good chewy, tough sourdough texture. And now just a couple of final comments.....the things that make this burger great to me are: 1) The 4 cheeses used in creating the burger blend really nice together…asiago, parmesan, mozzarella, and provolone 2) Using the wine reduction sauce allows me to offset the heat of the large quantity of pepper with the sweet of the wine. I wanted a little back-of-the-throat warmth without heartburn heat. 3) I love the asiago cheese bread....enough said 4) The olive oil and cheeses give you a really good salty flavor with no actual physical salt being added. 5) With all the wonderful flavors going on you require no typical mustard or ketchup paste type condiments. If you couldn't tell I'm just really proud of this burger! Thanks for the opportunity to share it with you.