Peppercorn-Crusted Chophouse Burgers
These burgers are great local American burgers because they were inspired by a memorable meal my husband and I shared at a local, classic American chophouse – outstanding peppercorn-crusted beef cooked to perfection, criss-crossed with smoky bacon strips and accompanied by herb sauteed wild mushrooms and creamy cheesy spinach.Served with a glass of wine, this burger takes me back to that wonderful meal. Real comfort food – American-style – on a roll!
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup Sutter Home Merlot
1/2 pound fresh trimmed spinach leaves, washed thoroughly
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/4 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
Creamy Cheddar Spinach:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
4 ounces shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
4 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 pound peeled and thinly sliced shallots
1/2 pound sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
9 strips cooked applewood-smoked bacon, halved
6 split fresh Kaiser rolls, with a slightly chewy bite to the crust
– Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
– Soak porcini mushrooms in wine in a small bowl for 25 to 30 minutes until mushrooms are moistened and soft. Drain mushrooms, reserving the wine and set mushrooms aside. Strain the wine through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set aside.
– When the grill is ready, cook the spinach with just the water left on its leaves in a large non-stick saute pan on the grill rack for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly wilted. Remove from heat and cool.
– To make the patties, spread the chuck out in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of strained wine, Worcestershire, chives, garlic, rosemary, tarragon and salt. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls. Add the peppercorns to a medium bowl and evenly press peppercorns into one side of each patty. Refrigerate until ready to grill.
– To make the Creamy Cheddar Spinach, using a fork, “mash” together cheeses and garlic in a medium bowl. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from cooled spinach leaves, chop and mix into cheese mixture. Form mixture into 6 round, flattened portions to fit the patties. Set aside.
– To make the Herbed Mushrooms, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick saute pan on the grill rack. Saute shallots for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, reserved porcini mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and lightly browned. Stir in 1/2 cup of strained wine and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until wine is cooked down. Stir in thyme and salt, remove pan from grill rack and keep warm.
– To cook the patties, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties, pepper side down, on the grill rack, cover and cook until browned on the bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the patties, top with bacon strips and then the cheddar spinach portions. Cook until done to preference, 4 to 5 minutes longer for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly.
– To assemble the burgers, place equal portions of the mushrooms on each roll bottom followed by a bacon-Cheddar Spinach-topped patty. Add roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.