Route 66 Chili-Spiked Burgers with Cherry Cola Caramelized Onions & Fried Green Tomatoes

Pairs well with:

White Zinfandel

With strawberry and melon essences, this American original is perfectly at home with however you like to unwind.

Whether you want to “get your kicks” or experience what John Steinbeck called “the Mother road”, your journey will take you along Route 66.I live a few miles off the original Route 66 which runs through Joplin, Missouri. As a link between Chicago and Los Angeles, Route 66 established itself in the minds of Americans as not only a way for public transit but as an icon of classic Americana. My burger recalls the summer family road trip along Route 66 with a stop in Joplin for a juicy chili seasoned burger topped with homemade fried green tomatoes and a cold refreshing cherry cola.


Burger Ingredients:
2 pounds ground chuck beef
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cocoa powder

Garlic Pepper Spread:
3 garlic cloves
2/3 cup drained roasted red peppers (taken from jar)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Cherry Cola Caramelized Onions:
3 Tablespoons cola beverage
3 Tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (taken from jar)
1 pound sweet onions, halved and thin sliced
1 Tablespoon packed dark brown sugar

Fried Green Tomatoes:
3 to 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 to 3 cups fried onions (taken from can), finely crushed
1 extra large green tomato, sliced into six 1/4″ thick slices*
1 to 2 Tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for brushing on grill racks)
4 ounces shredded Colby Jack cheese
6 quality deli-style hamburger buns, split
6 green leaf lettuce leaves


Combine all burger ingredients (ground chuck beef through cocoa powder) in large bowl, handling as little as possible but mixing until well combined. Form into six equal sized patties.

To prepare garlic pepper spread, place garlic and roasted red peppers in small food processor and process until well combined. Add mayonnaise and cayenne; pulse off and on just until combined. Cover and reserve for serving.

Preheat gas grill to high. In a large heavy non-stick fireproof skillet, cook cola and cherry juice until mixture begins to boil. Add onions and stirring often cook 15 to 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and onions are tender. Stir in brown sugar and cook additional few minutes until onions begin to caramelize. Remove onions, cover and keep warm.

To prepare fried green tomatoes, in a shallow bowl stir together flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. In a second shallow bowl place beaten eggs. In a third shallow bowl place the crushed fried onions. Dredge each green tomato slice in flour, then in egg (allow excess egg to drain back into bowl) and then in fried onion mixture (patting onion mixture onto tomato to help it stick).

In clean skillet, heat 1Tablespoon oil until hot. Add coated tomato slices and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown (you may need to cook them in two batches using the additional 1 Tablespoon of oil for the second batch). Remove tomato slices to a paper towel lined plate; cover loosely and keep warm.

Reduce grill temperature to medium-high. Oil grill grates with 3 Tablespoons oil. Place burger patties on grill and cook 4 minutes. Turn patties and cook to desired doneness. During last few minutes of grilling, top each burger with equal portions of cheese and allow cheese to melt. Also, place cut sides of buns down on grill to lightly toast.

To serve, spread garlic pepper spread over both cut sides of each bun. On bottom half of bun, place equal portions of lettuce, cherry cola onions, a burger patty, fried green tomato slice(s) and the top half of the bun. Makes 6 burgers.

*Note: if a large green tomato is not available, use smaller tomatoes and makes 12 fried green tomato slices; place two tomato slices on each burger.