Butter-Basted BLT Cheese Burgers

Pairs well with:


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

These burgers are inspired by the classic BLT sandwich, with a few twists.Fresh tomatoes are drizzled with herb-oil and grill-roasted to tender, lightly charred ripeness. Mayonnaise is lifted with roasted garlic and capers to a sweet, savory, briny sauce. The burgers are basted with spiced melted butter, giving extra char and tremendous juiciness. A contemporary take on an American classic!


Grill-Roasted Garlic & Tomatoes:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 large heads fresh garlic, 1/4-inch cut off the top to expose the cloves
9 fresh Roma plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons grated sweet onion (after juices have been squeezed off)
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds quality ground beef chuck

Roasted Garlic-Caper Sauce:
1/3 cup quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup quality ketchup
1/4 cup nonpareil capers
2 tablespoons grated sweet onion (after juices have been squeezed off)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Spiced Butter:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked kosher salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 1-ounce slices sharp yellow cheddar cheese (melt-able)
12 slices hickory-smoked bacon (Artisan, if available), cooked until crisp and cut in half crosswise
6 bakery Vienna burger rolls, split (egg-wash-glazed rolls, with a slightly crisped crust and a soft, tender interior)
6 leaves crisp red leaf lettuce (locally grown, if possible)


Prepare a low-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to low direct heat.

To make the garlic and tomatoes, in a small bowl, mix together oil, thyme and rosemary. Place garlic on individual pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a fire-proof baking sheet. Drizzle garlic and tomatoes evenly with oil mixture. Seal garlic in the foil. Place garlic and tomatoes on grill rack, close lid and cook until garlic cloves are soft and tomatoes are shriveled and softened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from grill and cool to room temperature.

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

Meanwhile, to make the patties, in a small bowl, mix together onion, mustard, Worcestershire, pepper and salt. Spread the ground chuck out in a large shallow pan and, handling the meat as little as possible, evenly mix onion mixture into meat. Shape into 6 equal patties sized to fit the rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the roasted garlic-caper sauce, squeeze the roasted garlic bulbs from their skins to a small bowl and, using a fork, mash them together until smooth. The yield should be a slightly heaped 1/3 cup. Mix in mayonnaise, ketchup, capers, onion, vinegar, parsley and Worcestershire until evenly blended. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

To make the spiced butter, in a small bowl, mix together butter, paprika, onion powder, granulated garlic, pepper and salt. Set aside.

To grill the patties, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on the grill rack, brush with some spiced butter, cover and cook, turning once and occasionally continuing to brush patties with butter, until cooked to preference, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, top each patty with cheese and 4 bacon slice halves. Brush the cut sides of the rolls evenly with spiced butter and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place a lettuce leaf on each roll bottom and add a cheese and bacon-topped patty. Place 3 tomato halves on each, drizzle evenly with sauce, add the roll tops and serve with some napkins and a big ‘ol smile! Makes 6 burgers.