Michael Chiarello is the chef/owner of Bottega in Yountville, California, a renowned cookbook author and, yes, you definitely have seen him on Top Chef Masters. He’s also a Food Republic Grilling God and an all-around awesome guy. So naturally, his latest cookbook, Live Fire, is an instant hit around these parts. Heat up that grill nice and hot, it’s wine and cheese (burger) time.
Sweet onions cooked in Zinfandel — hard to top this as a topping for a burger. For all its rich, complex flavor, this marmalade is fast and easy to make. The combination of blue cheese and Zin onions makes this one of my favorite burgers. Serve with a good Zinfandel. (Duh.)
- 3 pounds ground chuck
- 3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 sourdough or small levain rolls
- 2 medium red onions
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups Zinfandel
For the marmalade
- Slice off the ends of the onions, halve the onions from end to end, then peel them. Slice each half into thin half-moons. You should have about 4 cups of sliced onions. Set aside.
- Heat a large saucepan over high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, salt and pepper. Decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the thyme and cook for 1 minute more.
- Pour in the Zinfandel and cook until the sauce has reduced by about two-thirds, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and let the marmalade cool while you make the burgers.
For the burgers
- Turn a gas grill to high or ignite charcoal. When the grill is hot, for both gas and charcoal grills, clean your grill rack. Decrease the temperature to medium-high (on a gas grill only) and brush or wipe a little olive oil on the grill rack.
- Shape the ground beef into 12 thin patties. On each of 6 of the patties, spoon 2 tablespoons of blue cheese, leaving 1/2-inch margin free of cheese all the way around. Cover with the remaining patties. Lightly, lightly press the edges of each burger together while keeping its shape. Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.
- Place the burgers on the hot grill and close the lid. After 5 to 6 minutes, flip the burgers, close the lid and cook for another 4 minutes for medium-rare burgers, another 6 minutes for medium burgers.
- To serve, place each patty on a roll and top with a few spoonfuls of the marmalade.
Chef's Note: You can freeze the Zin-Onion Marmalade, which makes it a great way to use leftover wine the day after a party. Store the marmalade in an airtight container in your freezer for up to 1 month.
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