Cayenne Maple Burgers with Upside Down Pineapple Fricos and Grilled Romaine Salad

Pairs well with:

White Merlot

Imagine sipping a lighter Merlot. This fresh, pale-pink wine is a nice change from traditional red or white wines.

My wife just loves fresh fruits and salads and I really like crispy cheese and bacon, so my goal was to combine those tastes into one burger that we would both really enjoy!



2 pounds ground beef chuck

3 tablespoons Grade A maple syrup

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Grilled Romaine Salad

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, drained

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound sliced bacon

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

Upside Down Pineapple Frisco

6 slices fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, 1/2 inch thick

6 maraschino cherries, stemmed and pitted

3 cups Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated, not packed

Vegetable oil for brushing on the lettuce, pineapple and the grill rack

6 Kaiser rolls, split


Heat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, in a large bowl combine the ground beef, maple syrup, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt. Handling the meat as little as possible, to avoid compacting it, mix well. Form the mixture into 6 equal patties to fit the rolls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the salad, whisk together the mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice, horseradish and pepper. Cover the dressing and set aside. Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook in a fireproof skillet until evenly browned. Transfer the cooked bacon to paper towels and pat off any excess fat. Slice the tomatoes and place in a colander to drain. Cut the lettuce heads in half lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Rinse well and pat dry. Lightly brush the cut sides with oil and grill the lettuce directly on the grill rack on all sides, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove the root end and cut the heads into 1-2 inch pieces.Place the lettuce and tomatoes in a bowl, add in the cooked bacon, pour on the dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the fricos, brush the pineapple rings with vegetable oil on both sides and cook directly on the grill rack, about 4 minutes per side, giving them a quarter turn after 2 minutes. Then remove the pineapple to a plate to cool. Close the lid on the grill and preheat to 350F. If the grill doesn’t have a built in thermometer you can use an oven thermometer on the grill rack. Then place 2 of the pineapple slices on a half sheet pan lined with a non stick mat, leaving room between them. Place a cherry in the middle of the pineapple rings and top with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, in an even layer, so that the cheese extends beyond the edge of the pineapple onto the cookie sheet by about an inch all around. Fill some of the cheese into the center around the cherry and mound the cheese slightly where it overlaps the edge of the pineapple. Place the half sheet pan on the grill rack and close the lid. Cook until the cheese is slightly golden in color, about 6-8 minutes, rotating the pan at about 4 minutes to ensure that they cook evenly. Keep an eye on them so they don’t get too brown. Remove the sheet pan from the grill and allow to cool. Once the cheese has firmed up, slide a spatula under the frico, lifting the edge of the cheese with a butter knife helps, and place them carefully, same side down, on a big plate or tray. They will get turned over later. Repeat the process with remaining pineapple slices. Cover loosely and set aside.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During last 2 minutes of grilling place the roll tops and bottoms, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast slightly.

To assemble the burgers, place a roll bottom on top of each of the pineapple fricos and turn over using a spatula. Place a patty on top of each of the pineapple slices and top with equal portions of the salad. Add roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers