Grilled Skirt Steak Burger with Smoked Oyster Butter Sauce, Crispy Onions and Pickled Cucumber

Pairs well with:


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


4 oz. champagne vinegar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 large English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias (into ovals)
1 cup peeled, thinly sliced fresh shallot
2 cups canola oil
3 large yellow onions, peeled, halve and sliced about 1/4" thick (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
4 oz. coarsely chopped pancetta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 lbs. skirt steak, ground by butcher (or at home using a meat grinder) -use same "grind" as you would use for regular ground beef
6 oz. high quality smoked oysters, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh shallot
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Canola oil for oiling grill, burgers and buns
6 uncooked skirt steak burgers from step #4
6 onion challa or brioche hamburger sized (about 4 1/2"-5" in diamter) rolls.
6 slices Smoke Gouda Cheees (each slice should be about 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" and just sligtly thicker than a typical slice of presliced processed cheese)
Pickled Cucumber (from step #2 below) S
moked Oyster Butter Sauce (from step #5 below)
Crispy onions (from step #3 below)



1) PREPARE YOUR GRILL: FOR A GAS GRILL: If you have a grill that has more than one section, heat one section to high and one to medium. If you only have one section, heat it to medium. 2) FOR THE PICKLED CUCUMBER: Combine the 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 1/4 cup superfine sugar, and 2 tsp. fine sea salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the thinly sliced cucumber and 1 cup sliced shallot and stir to combine. Set aside to "pickle" while you prepare the rest of the elements of the burger. 3) FOR THE CRISPY ONIONS: Place the 2 cups canola oil and 6 cups sliced yellow onions into a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven (deeper is better) and place on the hot side of the grill. As soon as the oil comes to a boil, move the skillet/pan to the cooler side of the grill and cook, stirring constantly (you want the oil to be at a low simmer) for about 12-15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove the onions from the oil to a paper towel lined plate, spreading them out so they can cool and crisp (they will seem soft when you take them out of the oil but they will crisp as they cool). Season them with the 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt as son as you take them out of the oil. 4) PREPARE THE BURGERS: Place the 4 oz. pancetta into the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground (1-2 minutes, on and off until evenly ground/chopped). Place the ground/chopped pancetta into a large, wide mixing bowl. Add the 1/2 cup basil, 1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, and 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to combine the mixture thoroughly. NOTE: you want it uniformly and thoroughly mixed so when you add the beef you will not have to handle it any more than necessary. When the pancetta mixture is thoroughly combined, crumble the ground skirt steak over the mixture in the bowl and use your hands to toss the meat with the mixture-like a salad-crumbling the beef chunks as you mix. You want to handle the meat as little as possible while still mixing it evenly and thoroughly. When mixed thoroughly, divide into 6 burgers/patties (a slightly rounded or "heaping" 3/4 cup meat mixture per burger-if you have a little meat left over, make the chef a little spicy meat ball). Form each portion into a patty that is about 4 1/2" in diameter. Place burgers onto a clean platter and cover with plastic wrap. Chill the burgers/patties while you prepare the Smoked Shrimp Butter Sauce and prepare the grill for cooking the burgers. 6) FOR THE SMOKED OYSTER BUTTER SAUCE: NOTE: Although there is no actual butter in this sauce, I call it a "butter sauce" because you make a "butter" out of the smoked oysters which is added to the sauce. Place the smoked oysters, 1/2 cup minced shallot, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic, 2 Tbsp. champagne thoroughly chopped and combined-about 2-3 minutes (stop the processor or blender once or twice and scrape down the sides of the bowl or jar). Scrape the mixture out into a small bowl and fold in the minced fresh basil. Cover and chill until ready to cook burgers. 7) COOK THE BURGERS: NOTE: Have a spray bottle filled with water ready(grill-side) when you cook the burgers to put out any flare-ups (flames) that result fromthe melting/dripping fat from the burgers. Use the canola oil to lightly oil both sides of all of the burgers and to lightly oil the grill. Grill the burgers for about 4 minutes per side (you are aiming for about 135-140 degrees internal temperature-they will stay very juicy and moist because of the pancetta), turning them once. While the burgers cook, prepare the buns by creating a "divot" in each top bun: remove any excess dough from the inside of each top bun-this will help the crispy onions stay on the burger and help the burger stay together. Lightly oil the cut sides of the buns with avocado or grapeseed oil. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, top each one with a slice of the Smoked Gouda cheese. Cover the grill to melt the cheese. When done, remove the burgers to a clean plate and tent with foil to rest and keep warm while you toast the buns. Place the buns, cut sides down around the edges of the grill and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until warm and lightly toasted. Remove buns from grill and place one top and bottom onto each of 6 plates. 7) FINISH THE BURGERS: Drain the pickled cucumber and shallot and blot dry with papter towels (save the liquid to store any leftover cucumbers and/or shallots). Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the Oyster Butter Sauce onto the cut sides of each top and bottom bun(spread it into the "divot" in the top buns). Cover the bottom half of each bun with pickled cucumber slices and about 1 Tbsp. of the pickled sliced shallots. Top each bottom half with a cooked, cheese topped burger. Top each burger with about 1/2 cup of the crispy onions and then the top halves of the buns. Serves 6.