Old Dominion Red Eye Burgers

Pairs well with:

White Merlot

Imagine sipping a lighter Merlot. This fresh, pale-pink wine is a nice change from traditional red or white wines.

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, southern style food has been a staple of my family’s table as long as I can remember. One of my favorite things in the morning is red eye gravy, so I thought it would make a great flavor for a burger, combining great beef, Smithfield sausage, our wonderful summer produce, and another southern favorite, chow chow. The espresso powder and coffee bring in the classic red eye flavor, and the candied country ham bacon are a great balance of salty and sweet, and showcase two more great Virginia products, Virginia country ham and Virginia Gentleman bourbon whiskey. The flavors work to give a great picture of Virginia living in a bun.



One and one half pounds ground beef(preferably 15 % fat)
One half pound hot Smithfield pork bulk sausage
Two Tablespoons espresso powder
Two Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Two teaspoons salt

Chow Chow Chutney

One large red (preferably heirloom) tomato, diced
One large green (unripe) tomato, diced
One cup chow chow (type of relish)
One and one half cups strong brewed coffee

Candied Bacon

Twelve strips country ham bacon
One third cup Virginia Gentleman bourbon whiskey
One quarter cup cup brown sugar

Two to Three tablespoons vegetable oil, for preparing the grill rack
Six Sesame Seed hamburger buns
Six large collard green leaves, large middle stem/vein removed


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

To prepare the patties, in a large bowl combine the ground beef, bulk sausage, espresso powder, sage and salt until well-mixed, being careful not to overhandle the meat. Form into six bunsized patties. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to grill.

To prepare the Chow Chow Chutney, place a large nonstick fireproof skillet on the grill. Add the tomato, green tomato, chow chow, and coffee. Stir until well combined, and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, until coffee is reduced and chutney is thick. Remove pan from heat. Cover with foil and set aside to keep warm.

To prepare the candied bacon, place large fireproof skillet on the grill. Fry the bacon until crisp on one side, about five minutes, then until crisp on the second side, about three to four minutes(you can do this in batches if your skillet is not big enough for all of the pieces). Remove bacon from the skillet and drain away all of the grease. Add the whiskey to the pan off of the grill (to prevent flare-ups), place the pan back on the grill, and add the brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add the bacon back to the pan, coating both sides, and sauté for three to four minutes, until liquid evaporates and bacon is caramelized. Remove pan from heat and remove bacon from pan, set aside.

To prepare the patties, Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook, about five to seven minutes on the first side. Flip the patties, and cook for about four more minutes, until done to your preference. Remove from the grill and tent with foil to rest for about four minutes. While the patties are resting, place the buns, cut side down on the grill to toast for about three minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside.

To assemble the burgers, tear the collard leaves to fit the bottoms of the buns, using one leaf per burger. Top the collard leaves with the patties, and top each patty with an equal amount of the ChowChow Chutney and two strips of the candied bacon. Top each burger with the top half of the bun and serve.

Makes six burgers