Dig That Chili Burger!! (aka. White Cheddar Patty Melt Drenched in a Southwest Beef Zin Masa Chili with Avocado Topping)

Pairs well with:


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

I have been perfecting my chili burger for over twenty years.People who try them with this masa and wine chili have asked for the recipe, which leads me to believe I have created something special. I find that the Zinfandel is the perfect wine for this recipe, as the berry elements offer sweetness (no need to add additional sugar) and the black pepper notes blend beautifully with the other spices. As a pairing, the Zinfandel berry aromas open up with a delicious boldness that complement my chili burgers, as well as most southwest zesty burgers and bar-b-qued meats I prepare.


For the Beef Zin Masa Chili:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef chuck, 20% fat
4 tablespoons dark chili powder
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 1/4 cups Sutter Home Zinfandel
2 cups tomato puree
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons masa harina
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablesooons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon granulated beef boullion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed

For the Patty Melts and Buns:
2 pounds ground beef chuck (20% fat)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil for greasing the grill and patties
6 slices sharp white cheddar cheese, extra thick cut
6 good quality gourmet hamburger buns, sliced
1/2 stick butter, softened to spread on the buns

For the Toppings:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded iceburg lettuce
3 avocados, cut into cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
12 black olives, sliced


For the chili, heat the olive oil in a large fireproof saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground beef, chili powder and cumin. Cook until evenly browned. Do not drain (an old chili master secret!) Stir in remaining chili ingredients and cook for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Note that tomato purees vary in thickness. If chili is too thin, add more masa to thicken. If too thick, add more wine until desired consistency. Blend with a hand held emulsion blender for a finer, smooth texture. Keep covered and warm until ready to use.

To make the patties, combine the beef, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Incorporate gently with a fork. Handling the meat as little as possible, form into 6 patties. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

Heat grill to medium high.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Also brush both sides of the patties lightly with oil. Place the patties on the rack and cook, turning once until done to preference. 4 to 5 minutes each side for medium. Place one slice white cheddar cheese on top of each burger, close the grill lid and cook for the final minute to melt the cheese. Remove and set aside, covered with foil to rest.

Spread the cut side of the buns with softened butter. Place cut side down on the grill for 1 minute or until toasted with light grill markings.

To assemble, place bottom bun in a soup bowl. Top with a patty melt. Drench with a large ladle full of the chili. Place 2 teaspoons sour cream, 1 tablespoon shredded lettuce and 1/2 cubed avocado on center top. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon diced onion and 1 tablespoon diced tomato over all. Top with 2 sliced black olives. Place the top bun slightly to the side so as not to cover the toppings. Repeat for remaining burgers.

For your dining pleasure, serve with a knife and fork. Enjoy with a glass of Sutter Home Zinfandel!