Best Of Show Blue Ribbon Burgers

Pairs well with:


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

The Midwest is known for its magnificent state fair extravaganzas!My family looks forward to visiting our own Ohio State Fair each year to admire all the beauty of summers bounty, the very best being adorned with blue ribbon rosettes as best in show. It made perfect sense to create a burger to showcase the very best in produce and locally grown products. I also just had to honor those famous White Castle Sliders that originated right here in my home town of Columbus, Ohio. There could not be a more perfect tribute to my state and hometown than these absolutely fabulous Best of Show Blue Ribbon Burgers. Enjoy!


Caramelized Onion Jam:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups chopped sweet onion

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup peach preserves

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Balsamic Drizzle:

2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar (I used 18 year old balsamic vinegar)

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


3/4 cup very small diced cherry tomatoes(excess seeds discarded)

1/2 cup very small diced seeded yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup very small diced seedless cucumber


2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, 20 % fat

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

vegetable oil to wipe on grill rack

18 bakery style golden dinner rolls, split (about 2 inches by 2 inches)

2 cups baby arugula leaves

2/3 cup small sized blue cheese crumbles


Heat a gas grill to medium high heat.

To make the Caramelized Onion Jam, place olive oil and butter in a large, fire-proof, heat-safe skillet and place on grill rack. When butter is melted and oil is hot, add onions, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and caramelized. Stir in peach preserves and Worcestershire sauce and cook until combined. Stir in thyme leaves. Remove from grill rack. Set aside.

To make the Balsamic Drizzle, whisk balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl until combined. Continue to whisk and drizzle in olive oil until dressing is mixed. Set aside.

To make the relish, gently toss tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, and cucumber together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

To make the Patties, combine the ground beef chuck, basil, salt and pepper together in a large mixing bowl, mixing gently and taking care not to compact the meat. Form the meat into 18 small patties, sized to fit the rolls.

Wipe the grill rack with vegetable oil.

Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, for 7-9 minutes or until done to preference, turning once during cooking.

Place the rolls, cut side down on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast and warm during the last few minutes of grilling the patties.

To assemble the burgers, place a portion of baby arugula on each roll bottom. Top each with a portion of caramelized onion jam, blue cheese crumbles, a patty, and a portion of relish. Drizzle cut side of each roll top with balsamic drizzle (not quite a teaspoon) and place on top of burgers. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings of 3 burgers each (18 mini burgers)