Burger Of The Big Shoulders – (a.k.a., All Chicago Burger with Colors of Italy Guacamole, Crispy Cheesy Latkes and Creamy Kasseri)

Pairs well with:


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

Some of my best food memories were formed in Chicago.I wanted to create a burger that was a tribute to as many of the fabulous ethnic community flavors as possible while still working together. I wanted my burger to be a food metaphor for Chicago, one of my favorite cities in America.



1-1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80% lean)

1/2 pound Kielbasa sausage, finely chopped (or any Smoked Polish sausage)

3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup Irish Extra Stout Ale (recommended, Guinness Extra Stout)

Colors of Italy Guacamole:

3 ripe California avocados, peeled and pitted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 large cloves fresh garlic, minced or grated

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Crispy Cheesy Latkes:

2 large peeled baking potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds)

2 cups shredded Fontina cheese

1/2 cup grated yellow onion

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons matzoh meal or all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon each, Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Creamy Kasseri

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 cup shredded Greek Kasseri cheese (if unavailable, substitute mild cheddar)

6 sourdough Kaiser rolls or seeded Kaiser rolls, split


Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat. To make burgers, combine all burger ingredients except beer in large bowl. Gently combine, without over mixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 6 equal patties, (1-inch thick). Place in shallow dish; pour beer over burgers. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour (or up to 2) until ready to grill.

To make Guacamole, mash avocados with fork in medium bowl (leave a little chunky). Gently stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and set aside.

To make Latkes, shred potatoes. Rinse in cold water. Drain and wring dry in hand towel; place in medium bowl. Add shredded Fontina, onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper; toss until combined. Heat oil in large cast iron skillet over hottest part of grill. Drop potato mixture by 6 equal spoonfuls into hot oil; flatten slightly with back of a spoon to 3-inch diameter (don’t crowd, make in two batches if necessary). Cook until golden and crisp on bottom, about 3 minutes each side, turning once. Remove to paper towels. Cover to keep warm.

Blend all Creamy Kasseri ingredients thoroughly. Cover and set aside.

Remove burgers from beer; discarding liquid (thanking the Guinness for giving its all). Oil the grill rack and grill burgers until thoroughly cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium. During last few minutes of grilling, place rolls cut sides down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble burgers, spread roll bottoms generously with guacamole. Top with burgers, latkes. Spread roll tops with Creamy Kasseri; place on top of burgers. Serve immediately. Serves 6.