Peppercorn-Crusted Steakhouse Burgers with Merlot-Sauced Wild Mushrooms and Creamy Cheddar Spinach

Pairs well with:

Cabernet Sauvignon

This rich red easily complements your homemade chicken dishes, red meats, game, and mildly seasoned pastas.


Creamy Cheddar Spinach:
10 ounces fresh spinach, washed thoroughly
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 pound shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Merlot-Sauced Wild Mushrooms:
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
3 1/2 cups Sutter Home Merlot
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon® Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Colavita® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced shallots
1/2 pound sliced fresh Shiitake mushroom caps
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (I prefer Lea & Perrins brand)
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cracked black peppercorns (I prefer a 50%/50% mix of Spice Island® Cracked Black Peppercorns and McCormick Gourmet Collection® Cracked Black Peppercorns)
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 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.
•To make the Creamy Cheddar Spinach, cook the spinach in a large non-stick sauté pan on the grill rack in the water left on its leaves, stirring continuously, until lightly wilted. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from spinach leaves, chop and stir into cheese mixture. Set aside.
•To make the Merlot-Sauced Wild Mushrooms, soak Porcini mushrooms in 1/2 cup of Merlot in a small bowl for 25 to 30 minutes, mixing occasionally to be certain all mushrooms are moistened and soft. Drain mushrooms and set aside.
Add remaining Merlot to a medium, heavy fire-proof saucepan on the grill rack. Bring wine to a simmer and reduce amount to 1 cup. Whisk in tomato paste, mustard and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.
•Heat olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan on the grill rack. Sauté shallots for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add reserved Porcini mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, thyme and sage and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft. Stir in reserved wine sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from grill rack, cover and keep warm.
•To make the patties, spread the chuck out in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle evenly with Worcestershire, chives, tarragon, parsley, garlic, rosemary, 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 both sides of each patty.
•To cook the patties, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the patties and cook until done to preference, 3 to 4 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, on each roll bottom, spread an equal portion of the spinach mixture and top with a patty. Top each patty with equal portions of the mushroom mixture. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.