French Cheeseburger with Pears and Mâche-Shallot Salad

Pairs well with:


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


For the Pears:
2 firm Bosc pears
1 tablespoon Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc
For the Aioli:
1 large garlic clove, or two small ones
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 extra large egg yolk (can use pasteurized eggs if concerned with raw egg)
3/4 cup Colavita blended oil (olive oil and canola) (use less or more oil if needed, to achieve mayonnaise like consistency)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Water- optional – use to thin out if consistency is too thick
For Mâche-Shallot salad:
3 cups Mâche, leaves only (if you can’t find Mâche use watercress)
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon Colavita extra-virgin olive oil (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 lb. Fromage D’Affinois Coupe (or substitute any soft, brie-like cheese such as St. Andre)
For patties:
2 lb freshly ground chuck (refrigerate until about 15-20 minutes before anticipated grilling time – take out and allow to come to room temperature before assembling patties)
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill
6 Brioche Rolls, split in half.



Prepare a medium-hot fire on a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium hot

Heat a large, heavy, nonstick fireproof skillet on grill. Meanwhile, peel pears, slice in half lengthwise and remove core and stem. Slice into 1/8 inch thick slices. Once pan is heated up, add olive oil, wait 1 minute or so for that to heat up, then add sliced pears. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t stick, until they soften to the touch. If pears are very ripe, this may be quick – if firm, maybe 10 minutes depending on heat. Once softened, add 1 cup of Sutter Home sauvignon blanc and let simmer until pears absorb most of the wine. Set aside in bowl when done.

For the aioli: Finely chop garlic clove(s). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt on chopped garlic and using side of knife, smash and drag garlic and salt across cutting board repeatedly until paste forms. Collect that paste and put into bowl. Add to that bowl, 1 egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice and combine with whisk until homogeneous. At this point, drop by drop start adding blended oil. Start very slow, and whisk constantly, allowing the yolk and oil to combine together. As you go along and see the oil being absorbed quickly, you can increase the speed of adding oil. If it is too thick at the end, thin with a few drops of water to obtain mayonnaise-like consistency. If you want it thicker then it is, add more oil. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. If made ahead, refrigerate.

For Mâche-shallot salad, toss together Mâche and shallot to evenly disperse shallots throughout. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper in separate bowl. Set both aside.

Slice the cheese lengthwise (longest strips you can get from the cut of cheese) into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut those slides in half so you have two pieces that will approximately cover the surface of the burger.

A few minutes before grilling, sprinkle salt and pepper onto room temperature ground chuck, divide into 6 portions and form into patties to fit the buns. Do not handle patties more then necessary.

When grill is ready, brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on grill, cover and cook until bottom has browned, about 3-4 minutes. Flip, and continue cooking until desired doneness, about 4-5 minutes more for medium. Once you flipped the burgers, add vinegar-oil mixture to Mâche-shallot bowl and toss. Taste to make sure it has a good balance of vinegar, oil and salt and pepper – adjust as needed. Put the split brioche rolls, cut side down, along the edges of the grill during the last 2 minutes or so of grilling to lightly toast.

To assemble: Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of aioli on toasted bottom bun, then add enough Mâche-shallot salad to sufficiently cover aioli, about 1/2 cup. Top that with the burger, and place the two pieces of cheese (from one long slice) on burger. Place 4-5 slices of pear on top of the cheese (pears should completely cover the top of the burger in a single layer). Complete with toasted bun tops and serve.