Southwestern Berry Chipotle Burger

Serves 6
Pairs well with:

White Merlot

Imagine sipping a lighter Merlot. This fresh, pale-pink wine is a nice change from traditional red or white wines.


4 ounces mild goat cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup roasted raspberry chipotle sauce, preferably Fischer & Wieser brand

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans 
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro-Pecan Pesto (from above)
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles
2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/4 pounds ground beef (80/20), preferably equal parts brisket, 
prime ribeye, and prime sirloin

2/3 cup fresh raspberries
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2/3 cup diced jicama
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves 
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons roasted raspberry chipotle sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 slices uncured applewood-smoked bacon
1/3 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 good-quality brioche rolls, split 
6 slices (1/4-inch-thick) Monterey Jack cheese
3 cups coarsely shredded romaine lettuce


To make the spread, mix together the cheese and sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until assembling the burgers.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the pesto, place the pecans in a fireproof skillet on the grill rack and dry roast, stirring often, until lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the grill and transfer the pecans to a food processor. Add the cilantro, basil, olive oil, cheese, salt, and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

To make the patties, combine the 1/4 cup pesto, chile, adobo sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Form into 6 equal-sized patties to fit the rolls. Use your thumb to press a slight indentation in the center of each patty. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the salsa, combine the raspberries, avocado, jicama, cilantro, onion, mint, and chile in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sauce, lemon juice, and salt. Pour the mixture over the salsa and toss to combine. Cover and set aside until serving.

To make the caramel sauce for the bacon, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a large, heavy fireproof saucepan and place on the grill rack. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil, without stirring but occasionally swirling the pan, until the syrup is a deep amber color, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream and butter until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Cut the bacon slices in half crosswise to make 24 pieces and place in a large, heavy fireproof skillet on the grill rack. Cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Place the bacon on a sheet pan and spoon the caramel sauce over the bacon, completely covering the top side of each piece. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 minutes per side 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. During the last minute of cooking, place a cheese slice on each patty to melt.

To assemble the burgers, slather the cut sides of the roll tops with some of the spread. On each roll bottom, spread a heaping spoonful of the pesto, and then top with an equal portion of the lettuce, a cheese-topped patty, 4 bacon pieces, and a generous amount of the salsa. Add the roll tops and serve.