Kickin’ Brunch Burgers with Bloody Mary Sofrito and Roasted Jalapeño Honey Aioli

Accolades 2012 Finalists
Serves Makes 6 burgers
Pairs well with:


Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, halved
15 pickled banana pepper rings, chopped
1/4 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vodka
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 jalapeño chiles
1 cup olive oil mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons tupelo honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

12 slices uncured peppered bacon

2 pounds ground free-range chuck
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
12 pieces string cheese, each piece pulled into 3 vertical pieces
6 fresh bakery kaiser rolls with sesame seeds, split
1 head leaf lettuce, leaves separated and ripped into 4- to 5-inch pieces
30 bread and butter pickle slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced


Heat a gas grill to high.

To make the sofrito, combine the oil and garlic in a small fireproof skillet. Cook until the garlic is soft but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the grill. Transfer the oil and garlic to a food processor and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to the consistency of relish. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until assembling the burgers.

To make the aioli, place the chiles on the grill rack to blister, turning, until blackened on all sides. Remove to a brown paper bag, close the bag, and set aside. When the chiles are cool, discard the charred skin, slice in half lengthwise, scrape out and discard the seeds, and chop coarsely. Combine them with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until assembling the burgers.

Reduce the grill temperature to medium-high.

In a fireproof skillet, preferably cast-iron, cook the bacon on the grill, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain.

To make the patties, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, gently mix together. Form into 6 equal patties, leaving a slight indention in the middle to allow patties to be more equal in thickness after cooking. Set aside.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack and cook for 3 minutes. Turn and top each patty with 2 heaping tablespoons of the sofrito. Place 6 pieces of the separated cheese in a checkerboard pattern (three vertical and three horizontal) on each patty, cover, and cook until the cheese melts and the patties are done, about 3 minutes longer. While the cheese is melting, place the buns, cut side down, on the upper grill rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread each bun bottom with 2 tablespoons of the aioli and add 2 lettuce leaves, followed by 2 bacon slices, a patty, 5 pickle slices, an equal portion of the onion, and the bun top.