Burst of Sunshine Empanada Burger

Pairs well with:


Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.


4 TB olive oil
1 medium size sweet onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 TB chili sauce
4 TB sliced green pimento stuffed salad olives
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3″ by 3″ piece of watermelon rind
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 TB plus 3 tsp. of sea salt
2 ripe avocados
4 oz log of chevre
1 TB of heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lime
1 jalapeno pepper
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 Kaiser rolls, split
6 leaves of bun-size curly green leaf lettuce
2 large yellow or orange tomatoes, (red ones are fine if the others are not available)



Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.

To make the empanada mix, preheat a medium size fire safe skillet over medium high heat on the grill.
Chop onion into 1/4″ dice.
Add olive oil to skillet and allow to heat for one minute.
Add onion, garlic, chili sauce, olive/pimento mix, raisins, cumin and oregano skillet.
Saute for about 3 minutes and then move skillet between center and outer edge of grill so that the mix sautés on medium low heat for about 30 minutes until the onions are very soft and the chili sauce has carmelized a bit. Using a slotted spoon, remove mixture from skillet and place in a bowl. Set aside to cool. Set aside pot and reserve to brush the rolls with the residue from the pot.

To make the watermelon pickles:
Peel the watermelon rind and cut into pieces one inch by one inch.
Place in small saucepan with vinegar, sugar and 1 TB of the sea salt.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then move to outer part of grill and allow to simmer over indirect low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Take watermelon out of the briny mixture and allow rind to cool in a bowl.

To make avocado spread with watermelon pickles:
Allow goat cheese to soften at room temperature.
Remove avocados from skin and remove pits. Place in a medium size bowl. Add lime juice and 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Take out seeds (not ribs) and mince jalapeno and add to mixture. Cut watermelon pickles in 1/4 inch dice and chop cilantro adding both to bowl. Mash mixture with fork leaving a little bit of chunky texture to the avocado.
In a separate bowl, combine softened goat cheese and cream. Mash with fork until soft and creamy and add to avocado mixture. Mix with fork to combine.

To make the patties:
Combine the beef, empanada mixture and 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and grill until browned on the bottoms, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until done to preference, about 5 minutes longer for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the tops of the rolls with residue from empanada pot and carefully place the rolls, cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place an equal amount of avocado spread on cut side of tops and bottoms of rolls. Place a leaf of lettuce on bottom cut side of each roll. Place patties on top. Place a 1/4 inch tomato slice on top of each patty. Add roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

Elizabeth Dougherty
St. Petersburg, Florida