The Farmhouse Burger (with a Brown Sugar Glaze, Toasted Walnut-Dill Pickle Guacamole and Cheddar-Garlic Spread)

Wine Varietal: Zinfandel

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Ingredients:

Cheddar-Garlic Spread:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves fresh, peeled garlic, crushed in a garlic press
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated bleu cheese

Burger Patties:

2 lbs very well-chilled 85% lean ground chuck
1/3 cup grated onion
1/4 cup Sutter Home® red Zinfandel
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons very cold butter, grated on a medium grater

Guacamole:

1 very large, ripe Hass avocado, coarsely mashed
3 tablespoons very finely chopped, well-drained dill pickles
1/2 teaspoon Colavita balsamic vinegar
1/3 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
1/8 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
6 large whole wheat Kaiser-type buns, split
6 large slices of red or Vidalia onions
6 slices of beefsteak tomatoes
12 slices of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut in half

Instructions:

For the spread: Combine all the spread ingredients, except the cheeses; mix well. Stir in the cheeses. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before using.

For the patties: Crumble the well-chilled meat into a large bowl. Toss all the remaining patty ingredients on top of the ground beef, adding the shredded butter at the very last minute, so the butter will remain cold. Mix until well-combined; handle the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it (I use a two-tined fork or a large meat fork for this). When thoroughly mixed, form into 6 patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Immediately place the patties, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator; chill for at least 1/2 hour.

For the guacamole: Combine all the guacamole ingredients, except the chopped toasted walnuts. Cover the guacamole; set aside at room temperature. Do not prepare more than 1 hour before serving. Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet on top of the grill, over medium-high heat, for 3-4 minutes or until toasted and aromatic. Stir frequently, as they burn easily. Set aside; cool completely.

To prepare the burgers for serving: Heat the grill on high for 5-10 minutes or until hot (about 450F). Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the bacon in a large, heavy, nonstick, fire-proof skillet until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. You may keep the bacon warm by laying the pieces on foil, away from direct heat.

Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side; turn the burgers. After you flip the burgers, sprinkle each burger with 1 teaspoon brown sugar; close the lid for about 1-2 minutes or until the sugar is melted. Spread each burger with about 2 tablespoons of the cheddar-garlic spread. Close the lid again and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is partially melted (cooking the burger for 8-10 minutes in total or until just slightly pink in the middle). During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns cut sides down on the grill rack until lightly toasted.

To assemble the burgers: Stir the walnuts into the guacamole; spread a thick layer on the bottom bun. Top with 1 slice each of onion and tomato, the burger patty, 2 slices of bacon (4 pieces) and the top bun. Serve.

Serves 6.