New England Steak Burgers with Grilled Lobster and Spicy Chardonnay Butter
Locals in Connecticut where I have lived for the last 13 years have long claimed the burger as their own. Louis’ Lunch, located in New Haven, CT and operated by the Lassen family for several generations has long claimed that the hamburger’s first appearance was the result of grinding leftover steak from Lois Lassen’s lunch wagon which sold steak sandwiches to local factory workers in 1895. Louis Lassen, ever the frugal New Englander and not wanting to waste steak, was said to have ground the steak and then serve it on two pieces of white bread (buns were not invented yet) thus creating the first hamburger. Still in operation today, Louis’ Lunch serves simple hamburgers on white bread with no condiments- simply a choice of tomato, cheese or onion. My New England style burger while not being quite as frugal, does borrow a bit from Louis Lassen’s original burger: simple ground steak, tomato and onion. I’ve added a ubiquitous New England treat: lobster, to create a burger that would have knocked the socks off those factory workers 100 years ago.
1 pound certified Angus beef chuck steak
1 pound certified Angus beef sirloin steak
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Chardonnay
1/2 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil
6 lobster tails, thawed if frozen
Spicy Chardonnay butter
1/2 cup Sutter Home Chardonnay
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Chicken Marinade
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 sprig thyme
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for brushing on the grill rack
1/4 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 locally grown tomato, very thinly sliced
6 Brioche rolls, split
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make the patties, cut the chuck steak into 1 ½ inch cubes, try to keep the pieces uniform in size. Place the cubes into a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Use short pulses (1-2 seconds per pulse) and pulse 10-15 times until meat is ground. Remove the ground chuck steak and place it in a large bowl. Repeat the process with the sirloin steak. Place the ground sirloin in the bowl with the ground chuck. Sprinkle the meat with the Worcestershire sauce and the kosher salt. Using your hands, combine the meat and seasoning, do not overwork the meat. Form the meat into 6 equal sized patties. Cover and set aside.
To grill the lobster, in a measuring cup whisk together lightly the lemon juice, Chardonnay and the olive oil. Split lobster tails lengthwise with a knife; break the shells slightly to prevent curling. Brush flesh side of tails with the Chardonnay mixture. Place the tails, flesh side down on preheated grill. Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning once and basting frequently with the Chardonnay mixture. Discard any remaining mixture. Lobsters are done when opaque and firm; remove from the grill then carefully remove the lobster meat from the shells and coarsely chop. Cover lobster meat with foil.
To make the Spicy Chardonnay Butter, heat the wine in a medium non stick, fireproof saucepan on the grill. Reduce the wine by half. Whisk in the Lea & Perrins chicken marinade and red pepper flakes. Add the thyme, butter and salt, stirring continuously until butter is melted. Cover and keep warm and return to grill to reheat just before assembling burgers.
Brush the grill rack lightly with oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5-7 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Return the Chardonnay butter to the grill to reheat.
To assemble the burgers, place a few slices of onion, a thin slice of tomato followed by the patties on the bottom half of each of the rolls. Divide the lobster and arrange on top of each patty. Remove the thyme sprig from the chardonnay butter. Spoon a generous portion of the Chardonnay butter over each lobster portion. Top with remaining bun halves and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.