Building a Better Burger

... to win a hundred grand!


Ladies and gentlemen, it's burger time! Summer is in full swing, grills are out, and the burgers are flying fast and furious. Now, you might call me a burger purist. My favorite burger is great ground beef, nicely charred but still almost rare, served with thinly sliced onions. Oh, and ketchup. Yes, I am a condiment abuser! But I'm getting better, thankfully, which makes my burgers a better match for wine.

While I am a burger purist (and that means no Wagyu beef burgers, folks) sometimes a burger just needs something more. Sometimes your beef needs a boost. As some of you might know, I used to produce a line of low-fat poultry sausages (always being ahead of the curve does have its advantages!). Anyway, over the course of time and myriad sausage experiments, I nailed a few combinations that simply ROCKED.

Though I originally developed those recipes as poultry sausages, I've always wanted a good reason to dust them off and adapt them. In this case, I think I've found 100,000 reasons! Check out this site for details about Sutter Home's $100,000 Build a Better Burger contest, and check out Snooth for my Baton Rouge Burger recipe and wine pairings.

Ok, so when you get some meat that doesn’t exactly sing, I’m not saying it’s bad, just bland perhaps, what are you going to do? Spice it up, that’s what. Here’s how a take a nothing patty and make it into something special.

For each pound of ground meat, I add

1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, finely minced
2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Crushed Chipotle
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, finely minced

I blend the meat and spices thoroughly and form my burger patties from about 6 oz. of meat. I try to avoid overworking the meat, but do prefer a tightly packed burger. Once I’ve got the burger shaped, and about an inch thick, I make sure to dimple the patty in the middle to allow for the expansion of the meat as it grills.

I serve my Baton Rouge burgers with thinly sliced sweet onion, and an optional slice or two of jalapeno jack cheese for a little more oomph! With a burger like this, full of bold flavors, I opt for a big, bold wine, and an all American classic at that: Petit Sirah. I tasted a few last week and here are some of my favorites.

2007 Cupcake Petite Sirah

Perfumy floral nose over blueberry fruit with some gingery wood spice tones. Lightish body for a Petite, but balanced with crisp tannins and nice acid balance. It's a bit thin across the mid-palate but offers up some nice zesty cranberry fruit with a short finish. 84pts one  dollar sign

2007 Fortress Petite Sirah Red Hills Lake County

Lots of wood on the nose over chunky, earthy, plummy Petite Sirah fruit with notes of allspice and charcoal. A bit of orange juice concentrate right up front is joined by licorice and black pepper on the mid-palate. This shows plenty of ripe tannin and balanced acidity but is less about fruit and more about chocolate, slight herb, and wood spice tones. Still, it's well-balanced and may just need some time to allow the fruit to emerge. 88pts three dollar signs

2006 Trinitas Old Vine Petite Sirah

This shows a nice array of aromatics with toasty baking spices joined by black pepper, vanilla, grilled meat, and sweet candied cherry fruit all topped with a nice violet note. On entry this shows some sweetness and then turns nicely chewy with with lots of wood spice, dark plummy fruit, and some nice brown sugar accents. It turns a bit more wood spicy and tannic on the chewy, moderately long finish. 89pts two  dollar signs

2007 Dashe Cellars Petite Sirah Todd Brothers Ranch

This offers up huge notes of licorice and black ink over freshly cut plums with nuanced tones of orange, chocolate, and pepper. It's big and young and a bit unfocused but intense and gains nice floral top notes with an emerging wood spice tone. On the palate this is both velvety and a bit chewy with that chocolatey fruit front and center. The fruit is liquory, and black raspberry-toned with a matte, chewy feel and subtle spice tones and an earthy carob-like edge on the backend that leads to a polished if somewhat short finish. The finish does show nicely sweet fruit and wood spice tones with a touch of balsamic pine. 90pts two  dollar signs

2007 Quivira Petite Sirah Wine Creek Ranch

Stemmy and herbal on the nose with a complex bed of sandy soil tone, pressed flowers, ash, and clear cracked black pepper. Silky on entry with fine balance that makes this rather large scaled wines almost elegant. It's got real transparency in the mouth with nicely spicy wild cherry fruit up front that gains a slightly muddy, earthy tone on the backend and on to the blue fruited finish. Really nicely done. 91pts three dollar signs


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  • Snooth User: kotlarek
    517719 17

    That burger recipe was FANTASTIC! Thanks for sharing it.

    Jul 19, 2010 at 1:43 PM

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