South of the Border Pepper Jack Burgers with Sweet Heat Ketchup

Pairs well with:

White Zinfandel

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


Sweet Heat Ketchup:
1/2 cup of strawberries (sliced)
1/4 cup sugar
2 jalapenos (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

6 (8-ounce) portions ground beef
1 1/2 cup of shredded pepper jack cheese (divided)
4 slices pre-cooked bacon (chopped)
1 small vidalia onion (chopped)
1/2 cup French’s fried onions

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 kaiser rolls


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

To make the ketchup, bring to a simmer in a saucepan on medium-high heat the strawberries and the sugar. Cook until the strawberries soften and start to thicken. In a small blender or processor, blend together the strawberry and sugar mixture, jalapenos, red pepper flakes, and basil until well blended. Transfer back to the stove on medium-high heat, and add the ketchup and barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

To make the patties, cook the bacon and onion in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat until bacon is crispy and onion is tender. Cool. Combine bacon and onion mixture with 1 cup of the pepper jack cheese, then set aside. Divide each beef portion into 2 equal amounts and shape them into patties (you should have 12 patties altogether). Place about 1/4 cup of bacon, onion, and cheese mixture on 6 patties, then top them with the other 6 patties. Close the edges of the patties to enclose the bacon, onion, and chees mixture. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to grill.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook for 4 to 7 minutes per side or to desired doneness is reached. During last few minutes of cooking, place the buns cut sides down on the outer side of the rack to lightly toast. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with the remaining 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese.

To assemble the burgers, spread the sweet heat ketchup on the cut sides of the top buns. Place a cheese topped patty on each bottom bun and top with a mound of fried onions. Add the top buns and enjoy.