Wine and Cheese (Burgers!)

I really need to stop wishing I was still in the desert but there’s just one last thing that I can’t get over: the gas grill at the house we stayed at! I grilled every single day at that house. No protein or vegetable remained safe in my care from that sweetly oiled rack once the click of the flame ignition pierced the quiet desert dusk. That quick snap and then flourish of flame that followed was like a call to arms. Char would so soon be mine! There were grilled tilapia tacos, spicy chicken breasts with lime, and even a grilled head of cabbage which made for an excellent slaw. But I knew I wouldn’t be leaving that house without attempting a burger to put all prior ground meats to shame.

Here’s how it went down: I boiled a bottle of red wine (Charles Shaw, for those of you familiar with the Trader Joe’s famous $2 bottle) with 2 shallots, a bit of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter until it was nice and reduced. Some of the reduction was mixed right into each beef patty (insane!) while the rest was used to brush the tops of the burgers as they cooked (ludicrous!)

I had a loaf of flax seed ciabatta just waiting for an assist of this  magnitude, so I sliced it open and threw it on the grill alongside the burgers. I really do love bread, but I always feel that eating a burger with bread on the top AND bottom is just too much, so these burgers were served open-faced. They were topped with gruyere and sat on a bed of baby greens that I tossed with tarragon vinegar.

I know, this is a lot to take in. You might want to use a fork and knife. You might just weep upon tasting these meaty morsels. You might even wish I had never been born but I accept that! I’d take a bullet for these burgers. Just saying…

Cabernet Burgers (Serves 4)

Adapted from Bon Appetit


1 750 ml. Bottle Cabernet Sauvignon

2 Shallots, minced

2 T Unsalted Butter

1 T Brown Sugar

24 oz. Lean Ground Beef

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

Vegetable Oil

4 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, sliced

Olive Oil

2 Ciabatta Rolls, halved to separate top from bottom

2 C Mixed Baby Greens

1 T Tarragon Vinegar

Directions: Boil wine and shallots in medium saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Add butter and brown sugar; whisk until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Mix beef, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup wine-shallot mixture in bowl. Form meat into four 5-inch squares or rounds. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers and brush with wine-shallot mixture. Continue grilling burgers until cooked to desired doneness, turning and brushing occasionally with wine-shallot mixture, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Place cheese slices on burgers after last turn and grill until cheese melts.

Brush ciabatta slices with olive oil and grill, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes.

Toss mixed greens with tarragon vinegar and arrange on toasted breads. Top with burger. Eat!

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