Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
The aroma from the beef patties my dad would make and refrigerate for a Sunday picnic remains a vivid childhood memory. He used a lot of garlic and spices in his beef patties and insisted they set over-night to incorporate flavor. He was my inspiration from childhood and into my adult life. He cooked in an open pit and used only dry cut maple wood. He constructed a metal hamburger holder sized for 12 patties and he used its long handle to hold over the smoldering wood fire until the burgers were done to perfection. He also made certain I watched him closely so I would see how it was done. My burger contains most of the ingredients he used and I have added my own, including Sutter Home Zinfandel. The glaze brushed over the patties is bottled caramelized onion chutney with peppers found in most supermarkets and thinned with a small amount of wine-it added another layer of flavor.
While vacationing in Napa Valley, I was impressed with all the vineyards. In creating my wine country patty it seemed appropriate that I make a topping for my burger using grapes. I grilled red seedless grapes until they puckered and mixed the grapes with grilled chopped red onion, balsamic vinegar and a touch of salt to make a very different and delicious relish. I also put together a spread of Gorgonzola cheese, butter, California roasted almonds, lemon peel and black cracked pepper which is slathered over the bottom of a toasted Kaiser roll. I had to add bacon and lettuce-it just makes a burger better!
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter-room temperature
2 tablespoons coarse to fine chopped roasted whole almonds (skin on)
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds ground beef chuck 80/20
3 tablespoons fresh grated California Romano cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 medium bunches red seedless grapes (about 1 lb.)
6 slices red onion ( 1/4-inch thick from medium onion)
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup bottled caramelized onion chutney with peppers (see comments)
2 teaspoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
12 slices center cut smoked bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 quality bakery kaiser rolls, split horizontally
6 Bibb lettuce leaves to fit rolls
For Gorgonzola butter, using a fork, mix Gorgonzola, butter, almonds, lemon peel and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal grill to medium-hot.
For patties, pour wine in a large bowl. Add oregano, rosemary and garlic then break beef apart over mixture in bowl. Sprinkle cheese, salt and pepper over beef then gently mix ingredients together using a large spoon. Form 6 patties equal in size to fit rolls. Place patties on a plate, loosely tent with Reynolds Wrap non-stick foil until needed.
For relish, arrange grapes and onion on a nonstick edged perforated grill tray. Brush grapes and both sides of onions with olive oil. When grill heat is ready, place tray on grill rack; grill grapes until puckered and slightly charred in spots and onions until lightly browned, turning often and removing to a cutting board as each is done grilling. Remove tray from grill rack.
Pull grapes from stems and roughly chop grapes. Transfer 1-1/4 cups grapes to a small bowl. Save remaining grapes for another use. Chop onions and transfer to bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and salt; stir together and set aside.
For glaze, whisk chutney and wine together in a small dish. Set dish and a basting brush near grill.
For bacon, in a fire-proof skillet on grill side burner or grill rack cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels then wrap in Reynolds Wrap non-stick foil and set near grill.
Remove spread from refrigerator and set aside to soften.
Brush vegetable oil over grill rack. Place patties on rack; grill covered until browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn patties; grill 2 minutes covered then uncover and brush glaze over top of patties. Cover grill; cook to medium or desired doneness. Toast rolls cut side down on grill rack the final minutes of grilling and set wrapped bacon on rack to re-warm.
To assemble, smear Gorgonzola butter in equal portions over roll bottoms, top with a lettuce leaf, two slices of bacon then a patty. Using a slotted spoon, top patties with grape relish in equal portions and cover with roll top. Insert a skewer into each patty half before cutting and serving.