Bacon Thyme Burger with Gruyere, Spinach, and Red Pepper Spread
6 ounces fresh spinach
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped thyme leaves, divided
1/4 cup chopped parsley, divided
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, divided
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon cayenne, divided
1 pound thin sliced bacon
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (85% lean)
4 ounces sun dried tomato pesto
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large sesame seed hamburger buns, split
6 Romaine lettuce leaves
6 (1/4 inch) slices Beefsteak tomatoes
18 dill pickle chips
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Wash spinach and remove thick stems; coarsely chop. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat of a grill and add the chopped onion, garlic, and red pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach until wilted.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in one-half of the thyme, parsley and Gruyere until well blended. Stir in the cream cheese, Dijon mustard, and half each of salt, pepper and cayenne until smooth. Remove the skillet ingredients to a bowl, cover and set aside until ready to use.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat of a grill until crispy. Remove from skillet and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside and crumble one-fourth of the bacon.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, crumbled bacon, sun-dried tomato pesto, and remaining garlic, thyme, parsley, Gruyere, salt, pepper and cayenne. With your hands or a large spoon, gently mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to prevent compacting it. Form into 6 equal-sized patties sized to fit the buns.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook until the bottoms are brown, about 5 minutes. With a spatula, turn over the patties and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until cooked to your preference.
During the last few minutes of grilling, place the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly.
Spread both sides of the toasted hamburger buns with the Spinach, Gruyere and red pepper spread. To assemble the burgers, on each bottom bun layer a lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato, burger patty, and equal amounts bacon and dill pickle chips. Add the bun tops and serve.