Holy Mole Burgers with Coarse Black Pepper Bacon, Habanero Jack Cheese and Grilled Avocado Salsa

Pairs well with:


Get cozy and get pouring. Our Merlot is the wine for long weekends and lengthy chats.


2 pounds ground chuck
½ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup bittersweet chocolate shavings
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
zest from 2 oranges
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Merlot
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon chipotle chile pepper

Grilled Avocado Salsa:
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium California avocados, halved and pitted but not peeled
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 Habanero chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Colavita balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime zest
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

12 slices center cut coarse black pepper bacon

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 slices Habanero Jack cheese
6 salt and caraway seed rolls, split
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
6 ripe tomato slices


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, combine the chuck, onion, chocolate, cilantro, garlic, orange zest, wine, salt and chile pepper in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the roll size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Rub vegetable oil on cut sides of avocados. Place on grill rack, cover and cook 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; peel and coarsely chop. Combine avocado, tomatoes, garlic, chile, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, lime zest, salt, cinnamon, cumin and cilantro in medium bowl. Gently mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain; wrap in foil to keep warm.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Make a thumbprint indentation into the middle of each patty to ensure meat cooks evenly. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Place the cheese on the patties during the last few minutes of grilling. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble the burgers, place 2 tablespoons salsa on each roll bottom. Top with ½ cup lettuce, a tomato slice, a patty, 2 slices of bacon and an equal portion of remaining salsa. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers