What to Pair with the Crazy Flavors in Today’s Burgers

What to Pair with the Crazy Flavors in Today’s Burgers

build_a_better_burger_2013_chipotle_maple_bacon_burger_photoA hamburger used to be just a hamburger, but not anymore. Chefs and home cooks are getting downright audacious with their burger creations these days, from fried egg to candied bacon. No longer does a simple merlot suffice as a pairing partner. For tangy blue cheese, go with a slightly sweet wine, like a Moscato d’Asti. The savory burger, like egg or bone marrow, deserves something equally rich and savory, like a California Central Coast syrah. And for the spicy burgers--chipotle seems to be the flavor of the summer--splash a light white like a German riesling. Sutter Home Winery is taking entries for its annual Build a Better Burger competition, the mother of all burger competitions, and, while there are so many decadently delicious recipes to choose from, here are two truly exquisite burgers we just love. Check out these beauties and the wines we suggest pairing with them:

The Beef Burger Winner: Chipotle Bacon Maple Jam Burger by Michael Cohen

This divine hamburger uses chipotle bacon maple jam, a pear, spinach and hazelnut salad, and more blue cheese and chipotles in the patty to achieve perfection. So that’s what a $100,000 burger tastes like. The flavors are rich and complex, so we’d pair it with a red from the southern Rhône, like the MARTINELLE Rouge 2013 (Cote de Ventoux, Rhône Valley) $20.

The Alternative Burger Winner: Sour Apple Pork Burger By Cristen C. Clark

This sinful burger packs in cayenne-apple-candied bacon, apple butter glaze, potato chip-onion haystacks, and--are you ready for the sinful part?--bacon drippings in the patty. Pair with a sémillon from Australia’s Hunter Valley, and you’re in burger heaven. We like TYRELL’S Reserve Sémillon (Hunter Valley, Australia) $25-40.

Recipes for both burgers can be found below.

Chipotle Bacon Maple Jam Burger

Chipotle Bacon Maple Jam
10 oz. Bacon, sliced crosswise into ¾” pieces
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
2 tablespoon adobo sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
Large pinch kosher salt
Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions: heat large fireproof skillet on grill. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes until just starting to crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, leaving rendered fat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 seconds. Return bacon to skillet and add syrup, chile, adobo sauce, vinegar, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. If too dry, add a little water. Stir in mustard and set aside.

Pear, Spinach and Hazelnut Salad
1 cup julienned pear
1 cup baby spinach
⅓ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Large pinch kosher salt
Large pinch freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Patties
2 pounds ground chuck
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 ounces Maytag or other blue cheese, crumbled
6 bakery white hamburger buns, split
1 ½ cups sour-cream-and-onion-flavored potato chips

Directions: Heat grill to medium high. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide into 6 equal portions and form into patties. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on rack, cover, and cook, turning once, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During last few minutes of cooking, top patties with equal amounts of cheese and place buns, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast.

Assemble: Spread a generous layer of jam on the buns. On each bun, place a portion of the salad, a cheese-topped patty, and some of the chips. Serve immediately. Makes 6 burgers.

Sour Apple Pork Burger

Cayenne-Apple-Candied-Bacon
1 pound ulta-thick sliced smoked bacon
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup apple butter
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

Directions: Set a fireproof skillet on grill rack. Add bacon and cook until chewy, then transfer to a work surface. Combine brown sugar, apple butter, wine and cayenne in a small bowl. Brush mixture over both sides of bacon. Return bacon to skillet and cook until chewy crisp and coating is caramelized. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Discard solids from bacon drippings and pour into a large mixing bowl; reserve for later use.

Sour Apples
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1” cubes
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions: Wipe skillet with paper towels. Add apples, sugar, wine, lemon juice and zest, vinegar and cinnamon. Stir and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Potato Chip-Onion Haystacks
1 quart peanut oil for frying
2 Visalia or other sweet onions, sliced into very thin rings
1 cup buttermilk
5 cups Kettle Sea Salt Potato Chips
⅓ cup all-purpose flower
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt, divided

Directions: Place a large, high-sided, cast-iron pan on grill rack. Pour in oil and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place onions in buttermilk and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse potato chips in a food processor until very fine, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in flour and back pepper until well incorporated. Working in two batches and using tongs, gently lift onions out of buttermilk, shaking gently over bowl to release excess liquid, then drop into potato chip mixture and toss gently until well coated. Gently lower into hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. While warm, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt and break into three equal pieces. Repeat with remaining onions. Set aside. Remove skillet from grill.

Apple Butter Glaze
⅓ cup apple butter
¼ cup Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.

Patties
2 pounds ground pork
Reserved bacon drippings from above
½ cup shredded Granny Smith Apple
¼ cup Sutter Home Chenin Blanc
¼ cup crushed Kettle Sea Salt Potato Chips
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Sea Salt
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 ounces white Cheddar cheese
6 Kinds Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns
⅓ cup apple butter

Directions: Add pork to bowl with reserved bacon drippings. Add apple, wine and chips and toss gently to combine. Form 6 equal patties, depressing centers with thumb, sprinkle both sides of patties with seasoned salt. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on rack, cover and cook for 5 minutes, then brush liberally with glaze. Turn patty over and brush with more glaze. Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer. Place 1 oz of cheese on each. Cover and cook until done, about 3 minutes longer for medium. Transfer to a plate to rest. Place buns, cut side down, on grill rack to toast lightly. Spread cut sides of the buns with apple butter.

Assemble: Place cheese-topped patty on each bun bottom. Top each with 2 slices of bacon, 2 tablespoons of apples, a mound of onions and the bun top. Serve immediately. Makes 6 burgers.

Bon appétit!

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