5-Star in the Yard Burger (aka Tart Cherry and Port Wine Reduction Burger with Saga Blue and Pancetta)

Pairs well with:

Cabernet Sauvignon

This rich red easily complements your homemade chicken dishes, red meats, game, and mildly seasoned pastas.

I had a the most delicious venison medallions in a 5 star restaurant one night with a beautiful port wine reduction. I kept attempting to replicate the sauce and finally landed on success one night, but all i had defrosted was ground beef. That night we invented “5 star in the yard burger”.


2 lbs. ground chuck

Tart Cherry and Port wine Reduction:
1/2 cup ruby port
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 14oz. can fat free beef broth
16 allspice berries
16 juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

12 oz. Saga Blue cheese

2 cups arugula
12 slices pancetta
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
6 fresh Kaiser Rolls


To make the port wine reduction:
1.Combine port,cherries,thyme and beef broth in a fireproof pan. bring to a boil, remove from heat, and set aside.
2. Place allspice and juniper berries in a plastic bag and crush witha a mallet into a fine grind.Melt butter in another fireproof skillet, add minced shallots and garlic to butter and saute for two minutes. Add cherry mixture, one teaspoon all spice mixture, and 1/4 teaspoon salt: bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
3.Combine water and cornstarch; add to cherry mixture. Bring to boil; cook 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, break apart the meat and then pour the room temp liquid from the port reduction into the meat. Do not add the cherries to the meat. Gently mix, being careful not to over mix meat. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties leaving a slight indention in the center of patties. Set aside for grilling.

Cook the pancetta in a fire-proof skillet on the grill over medium-high heat until browned. Drain on paper towels to remove exess grease. Set aside.

Use one teaspoon render pancetta fat to make crispy shallots. Heat the sliced shallots in fat until brown. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

Heat the grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready,, with a paper towel, rub the grill rack with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the patties on the rack and cook until done to preference, 4-6 minutes per side.

In a bowl, toss arugula with cherries and any remaining liquid.

During the last 3 minutes on the grill, place the rolls face down on the grill to achieve a toasty edge.

Then during the last 1 minute on the grill place 1/4 inch (or 2oz. slice) of Saga Blue cheese on each patty.

To assemble:
Place a heaping 1/2 cup of arugula salad on bottom bun. Place cheese topped patty on top of salad and then place pancetta ring on top of cheese. Sprinkle 1/6th of the shallots of each pancetta ring. Top with the top bun and enjoy.