Spanish Patty Melts with Sherry Caramelized Onions, Crispy Serrano Ham and Smoky Red Pepper Aioli

Pairs well with:


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

These burgers were inspired by my wonderful vacation in Spain last year.My husband and I fell in love with Spanish cuisine and I wanted to recreate some of our favorite flavors in this burger. The savory patties are infused with Spanish paprika and are nicely complemented by the sweet sherry caramelized onions, salty Manchego cheese, and smoky red pepper aioli. And the crispy Serrano ham adds a delightful crunch. To make the burgers even better, I toast them lightly on the grill at the end until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy and golden. I hope you enjoy my interpretation of a Spanish patty melt!


2 lbs. ground chuck
1/3 cup grated Spanish onion
2 teaspoons grated garlic
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sherry Caramelized Onions:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup medium Spanish sherry

Smoky Red Pepper Aioli:
2 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

12 slices Serrano ham
Vegetable oil for brushing on grill rack
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 bakery quality long braided rolls (made with egg, such as Challah), split
8 oz. Manchego cheese, grated


Prepare a medium fire on a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium.

To make the patties, combine the ground chuck, onion, garlic, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties roughly the same shape and size of the rolls, being careful not to overwork the meat. Make a slight indentation in the center of the patties so that they will cook evenly. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the sherry caramelized onions, heat the butter and olive oil in a large, fireproof skillet on the grill. Add the onions and stir to coat. Season the onions with the sugar and salt. Cook onions for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are slightly softened. Add the sherry to the pan and continue to cook until onions are caramelized, another 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and put the onions in a bowl.

While the onions are cooking, rub the red peppers with the oil. Place the peppers on the grill and cook them, turning occasionally, until they are charred on all sides. Remove the peppers from the grill, place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. Then carefully remove the charred skin, seeds and ribs from the peppers with a knife. Coarsely chop the flesh and add it to a mini food processor. Add the mayonnaise, garlic, vinegar, paprika and salt and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.

Cook the Serrano ham in a large fireproof skillet on the grill until crispy. Remove from heat and place on a plate tented with foil to keep warm.

Increase the heat on the grill to medium high and brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the burger patties on the rack, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Remove the patties from the grill.

To assemble the patty melts, spread ½ tablespoon butter on the outer side of each bun half and spread some aioli on the cut side of each bun half. Place the bun bottoms on a cutting board, buttered side down, and top each with 1/12th of the Manchego cheese. Place a cooked patty on top of the cheese and top each patty with equal amounts of caramelized onions and crispy Serrano ham. Top each with the rest of the cheese and then add the bun tops, buttered side up.

Place the assembled patty melts on the grill and cook about 2 minutes on each side, covered, until the bread is crispy and cheese is melted. Remove from grill, cut in half and serve hot with a glass of Sutter Home wine!