Spanish Pork and Jamón Burgers with Orange Caramelized Onions and Saffron Aioli

Pairs well with:

Sauvignon Blanc

With hints of passion fruit, melon, and citrus, this wine beckons you to kick back and find a perfect porch swing.


2 lbs. ground pork
1/3 cup grated Spanish onion
3 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Saffron Aioli:
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon hot water
¾ cup good-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Orange Caramelized Onions:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
2 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh Valencia or navel orange juice
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
12 slices Spanish Serrano ham
6 slices Manchego cheese
6 brioche rolls, split


Prepare a medium fire on a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium.
To make the patties, combine the pork, onion, garlic, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties, 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 saffron aioli, place the saffron and hot water in a small bowl and set aside for at least 20 minutes. Transfer the saffron and liquid to a blender or food processor and add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, zest, garlic, and salt. Blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the orange caramelized onions, heat the butter and olive oil in a large fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the onion slices and stir to coat with the fat. Season with sugar and salt. Continue cooking for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized. Add the orange juice, zest, and vinegar, and stir to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and put onions in a bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the same skillet on the grill. When the oil is hot, add the Serrano ham slices and cook until crispy. Remove from heat and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Increase the heat on the grill to medium high and brush the grill rack with the remaining vegetable oil. Place the burger patties on the rack, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Place a slice of cheese on each patty during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread some saffron aioli on the cut sides of the top buns. Place a cheese-topped patty on each bun bottom and top with a piece of crispy Serrano ham and a mound of orange caramelized onions. Add bun tops and serve.
This recipe makes 6 burgers.