Beefy Half-Pounders with Caramelized Onions

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet Vidalia, Maui or Walla onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup Sutter Home zinfandel
3 pounds ground beef chuck (80/20% lean to fat)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 slices sharp Cheddar cheese
6 bakery-quality, firm-texture sesame-seed Kaiser rolls, cut so 2/3 of roll is the bottom portion
2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut horizontally 1/3-inch thick
6 leaves of crisp iceberg lettuce



Generously oil the grate of a gas grill and preheat it to high on one side and medium-high on the other. On a side burner, heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat. When hot add the olive oil, onions, sugar, and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to cook onions, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until they're caramelized a deep golden brown. Sprinkle in the thyme and continue to cook for one minute. Add the zinfandel and cook until wine is reduced. Set aside. Form 6 (1/2-pound) beef patties, season them well with salt and black pepper on each side, and build up the outer edge of each to allow for steam expansion in the middle. Place them on the hot grill and cook until nicely browned, approximately 5 minutes. Turn over and continue to cook to desired doneness, at least 5 more minutes. A couple of minutes before the burgers are done, arrange rolls on grill and lightly brown them on the cut sides and place a slice of Cheddar on each. Spread mayonnaise on cut sides of rolls, and place burgers on the bottom halves, adding a generous helping of onions, a tomato slice seasoned with salt and pepper, and a crisp leaf of iceberg lettuce. Top with upper half and serve.