Green Peppercorn Orchard Bacon Cheeseburgers

Pairs well with:


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

This is a regional recipe from the great mid section of our country.When the air gets a fresh chill the apple orchards are bursting with a wide variety of crisp, juicy selections. Our season is so short to enjoy the outdoors here, so we grill every opportunity we have. The only thing worthy of topping my Iowa beef is some aged Wisconsin cheese. We are big on bold flavors, so the addition of horseradish and green peppercorns finish the burger. Sipping a glass of wine by the warm grill will ensure a perfect mid west evening.


1 medium granny smith apple, grated
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
¼ cup Sutter Home Red Zinfandel
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons crushed green peppercorns

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon salt

12 slices apple wood smoked bacon
2 medium red onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Red Zinfandel
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 bunch red leaf lettuce
6 slices Honeycrisp apples (or crisp apple of choice)
12 slices Wisconsin aged Swiss cheese
6 best quality bakery sandwich buns, split


Preheat gas grill to medium high. Mix the grated apple, ground sirloin, ground chuck, wine, salt and fresh ginger. Form into 6 patties. Place the crushed green peppercorns on a piece of parchment paper. Roll each meat patty evenly in the peppercorns to coat all surfaces. Pat in gently. Chill patties until ready to cook.

Combine the horseradish, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, sour cream and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

Cook the bacon in a grill proof skillet on the hot grill until crisp. Remove from pan and drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. In the same skillet sauté the sliced onion in reserved drippings over medium heat on the grill until soft. Add the wine and stir until reduced. Reduce heat and add the maple syrup. Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are soft and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

Lightly oil grill grates. Grill the beef patties over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or until desired doneness is reached. The last minute or two of grilling, place two cheese slices on top of each burger and place rolls, cut side down on grill. Remove buns to serving plate. Top bottom of bun with lettuce leaves. Place burger on lettuce, cheese side up. Place apple slice on burger and pile on the caramelized onions. Criss Cross two slices of cooked bacon on each burger. Place a dollop of reserved horseradish sauce on each serving and place bun top on sandwich. Serves 6.