Sunny Side Breakfast Burgers with Bacon-Red Onion Marmalade and Spicy Bloody Mary Sauce

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.

I was inspired to create a burger using ingredients found in my favorite brunch beverages, breakfast sandwiches and omelets.A spicy bloody Mary becomes a kicked up, eye-opening sauce. Hickory-smoked bacon and red onions combine with fruity wine and vinegar to make a scrumptious marmalade spread. And my favorite breakfast sandwiches and omelets always include smoky pork and melted cheddar cheese. Crispness from the lettuce and roll exterior provides crunch while the soft roll interior absorbs all, letting no juiciness or flavors escape. Ding, ding . . . wake-up call!


Bacon-Red Onion Marmalade:
1 pound trimmed and chopped thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped red onions (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup Sutter Home White Merlot wine
2 tablespoons peach balsamic vinegar (if unavailable, substitute white balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon toasted and ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked kosher salt

Spicy Bloody Mary Sauce:
1/2 quality ketchup
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained horseradish
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked kosher salt

2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeño
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoons smoked kosher salt

Cooking spray
6 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 6 equal pieces

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
12 thin slices quality smoked ham
6 – 1 1/2 ounce slices sharp yellow cheddar cheese (melt-able)
6 bakery Vienna burger rolls, split (egg-wash-glazed rolls, with a slightly crisped crust and a soft, tender interior)
6 crisp red leaf lettuce leaves


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

To make the marmalade, when the grill is ready, add the bacon to a deep fire-proof Dutch oven or skillet. Place pan on grill rack, or on a side burner over medium heat, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour accumulated grease into a small heat-resistant bowl for other use. Add butter to pan and return to heat. Add onions and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and edges are lightly browned.

Return bacon to pan and stir in wine, vinegar and sugar. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and, using the pulse function, process 6 to 8 times or until coarsely chopped. Do not over process. Transfer marmalade to a medium saucepan, stir in fennel, black pepper and salt, cover with lid and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, in a small bowl, stir together ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, Sriracha, garlic, Worcestershire, celery seeds, pepper and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the patties, spread the ground chuck out in a large shallow and sprinkle evenly with green onion, jalapeño, Worcestershire, garlic, smoked paprika, pepper and salt. Handling the meat as little as possible, evenly mix ingredients into meat. Shape into 6 equal patties sized to fit the rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the eggs, spray a 6-cup muffin-top tin evenly with cooking spray. Gently crack one egg open into each cup, being careful not to break open the yolks, sprinkle evenly with pepper and salt, and place pan on grill rack. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until whites are firm and yolks are set but still soft in the center. Do not over cook. Remove from heat, place a piece of butter on top of each egg and tent loosely with foil.

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

To cook the patties, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until nicely charred and done to preference, about 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. Meanwhile, place the saucepan with the marmalade, covered, on the outer edge of the rack, or on a side burner over medium-high heat, to heat thoroughly. During the last few minutes of cooking, top each patty evenly with ham and then cheese and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place a lettuce leaf on each roll bottom. Drizzle leaves evenly with sauce then top each with a ham and cheese-topped patty. Lightly spread 2 heaping tablespoons of marmalade on top of cheese and, using a spoon to remove eggs from muffin tin, top each with an egg. Add the roll tops and serve with napkins and a smile! Makes 6 burgers.