Buffalo Cactus Burger with Mojave Desert Sauce

Pairs well with:


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


1½ pounds prickly pear cactus pads (also known as nopales)
½ cup Sutter Home Zinfandel red wine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
6 small jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
½ cup premium barbeque sauce
2 pounds ground buffalo
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
12 slices Texas Toast style (thick-cut) bread
6 ounces Pepper-Jack cheese, divided evenly into six slices



•Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat. •Thoroughly rinse cactus pads (nopales) under cold water and remove any protruding needles by slicing through skin under the area where needles grow. Cut off thick stem from cactus pad, trim edges, and pat dry. •Combine wine, olive oil, and mustard seeds in a large zip top bag and shake well to mix ingredients. Add prepared cactus leaves and marinate until ready to grill (at least 25-30 minutes). •In a large bowl combine garlic, salt, jalapenos, barbeque sauce, and ground buffalo. Mix to combine ingredients. Shape into six evenly sized round patties. •Prepare Mojave Desert sauce by mixing mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, and honey in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use as a condiment. •Brush hot grill with vegetable oil. Place marinated cactus pads on heated grill and grill each side for 10-12 minutes turning occasionally. Remove from grill and slice. •Place prepared buffalo patties on grill directly over flame at medium-high heat. Grill each side for approximately 3-5 minutes. •Spread butter on both sides of each slice of Texas Toast style bread. Place bread on top rack of grill or at sides where grill is slightly less hot and lightly toast both sides of bread turning once. •Just before removing burgers from grill, add grilled cactus pad slices on each patty and top each with one slice of cheese. Close grill lid and cook for one additional minute to melt cheese. •Remove toasted bread and burgers from grill. Spread Mojave Desert sauce on 6 slices of toasted bread. Add burgers (complete with grilled cactus and melted cheese) to each slice of toast. Crown with remaining 6 slices of grilled toast and serve immediately.