Savory Burger with Sweet Chili Sauce and Glazed Onions

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

This is a great local American burger because of its artful invention and assemblage. “Take the finest ingredients, prepare them thoughtfully and cook them to their best advantage.” This is my approach to this contest entry as well as to all my cooking. I have tried to put together the quintessential flavors associated with a good hamburger, combine and grill them to perfection.


For sweet chili relish:

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
2 T hamburger dill pickles, chopped
Dash Worcestershire sauce

For onion glaze:

1/2 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T Lyle’s Golden Syrup
freshly ground black pepper

3 large Vidalia onions, cut horizontally into 1/2 inch slices
1/3 cup olive oil

for burgers:

4 oz. applewood smoked bacon cut in a small dice
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 T butter
2 1/2 lbs. ground chuck, 85% lean
1 egg
1 t finely minced fresh thyme
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lb. Italian fontina cheese, chilled and then cut into six 1/4 inch slices

small head of butterhead or bib lettuce

6 ciabatta buns, halved


For sweet chili relish, mix together sweet chili sauce, ketchup, pickles and dash of Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.

In a small saucepan prepare glaze for onions by boiling down wine, balsamic vinegar, mustard, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and a pinch of salt and pepper until reduced to 1/4 cup.

Slide two soaked skewers parallel to each other through each of 6 onion slices to prevent them from separating on the grill. Brush onions with olive oil on both sides, place on grill and brush with glaze from time to time, turning over until caramelized and charred.

In a saute pan placed on the grill, saute bacon, shallots and garlic with 1 T butter until bacon is lightly browned but not crisp and shallots and garlic are translucent. Place in a large mixing bowl to cool. Add ground beef, egg, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix gently but thoroughly by hand and form into 6 patties. Grill patties approximately 4 minutes, then turn over, place a slice of cheese on top of each and continue to grill another 4 minutes of until medium rare.

Lightly grill ciabatta halves. Assemble the burgers. Spoon 2 t sweet chili relish on bottom halves of buns, top with a patty, another 2 t relish, then an onion slice, lettuce leaf and top half of bun. Serves six.