Sweet Garlic Studded Burgers with Fresh Pickles, Crispy Onions and Parmesean Aioli

Pairs well with:


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


For the Fresh Pickles:
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. superfine sugar
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 large English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
For the Basil Parmesean Aioli:
3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. fines sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (about 4 oz.) fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise
For the Crispy Onions:
2 cups canola oil
2-3 large sliced yellow onion-about 1/4" thick (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
For the Toasted Garlic:
1/2 cup canola oil
36 large unpeeled cloves of garlic
For the Burgers:
4 oz. pancetta, diced
3 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 lbs. ground chuck, 80% lean, 20% fat
36 cloves toasted garlic, peeled
To Finish the Burgers:
Canola oil for oiling grill, burgers, and buns
6 uncooked burgers/patties from step #6 below
6 onion challa or brioche hamburger sized rolls
6 slices smoked Provolone
Basil Parmesean Aioli
Fresh Pickles
Crispy Onions



1) Prepare Your Grill: FOR A GAS GRILL: If you have a grill that has more than one section, heat one section to high and one to medium. If you only have one section, heat it to medium. 2) For the Fresh Pickles: Place the white balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. superfine sugar and 2 tsp. fine sea salt into a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the sliced cucumber and toss to combine. Set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour (refrigerate if preparing more than 1 hour in advance of serving burgers). 3) For the Parmeasean Aioli: Place the 3 cloves garlic, 2 cups fresh basil, 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice into a food processor and process for about 1-2 minutes, or until everything is evenly chopped (you may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice). Add the 1/2 cup grated parmesean and 3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise and process until smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Scrape Aioli out of processor into a small bowl, cover and set aside unitl ready to serve (if you are preparing Aioli more than 1 hour in advance you should refrigerate it). 4) For the Crispy Onions: Place the 2 cups canola oil and 6 cups sliced yellow onions into a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven (deeper is better) and place on the hot side of the grill. As soon as the oil comes to a boil, move the skillet/pan to the cooler side of the grill and cook, stirring constantly (you want the oil to be at a low simmer) for about 12-15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove the onions from the oil to a paper towel lined plate, spreading them out so they can cool and crisp (they will seem soft when you take them out of the oil but they will crisp as they cool). Season them with the 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt as soon as you take them out of the oil. 5) Toast the Garlic: Add enough oil to the hot cast iron pan on the grill to cover the bottom completely (but thinly) and add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the skillet and cook, turning frequently (with tongs) until golden brown on all sides-about 6-8 minutes total. When done, remove the garlic to a clean bowl and cool slightly. 6) Make the Burger Patties: Place the 4 oz. pancetta into the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground (1-2 minutes, on and off until evenly ground/chopped). Place the ground/chopped pancetta into a large wide mixing bowl. Add the 3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, 1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, and 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper to the pancetta. Use your hands to thoroughly combine this mixture (you want it uniformly and thoroughly mixed so when you add the beef you will not have to handle it any more than necessary). When the pancetta mixture is evenly combined, crumble the ground chuck over the mixture in the bowl and use your hands to toss the beef with the mixture-like a salad- crumbling the beef chunks as you mix. NOTE: You want to handle the meat as little as possible while still mixing it evenly and thoroughly. When mixed thoroughly, divide into 6 burgers/patties (a slightly rounded or "heaping" 3/4 cup meat mixture per burger-if you have a little meat mixture left over make the chef a little spicy meat ball). Divide each portion in half. Form each half into 4 1/2" in diameter patty (you will have 12 thin patties). Place 6 toasted garlic cloves (5 around the perimeter and one in the center) onto 6 of the patties and top with the remaining patties. Gently seal the edges of each portion and press to form each "toasted garlic sandwich" into a patty that is about 4 1/2" in diameter. Place burgers onto a clean platter and cover with plastic wrap. Chill the burgers while you prepare to grill them (ideally, you would chill the burgers for at least 30 minutes- but if you don't have time or space in your refrigerator you can proceed without chilling them). 7) Cook the Burgers: NOTE: Have a spray bottle filled with water ready (grill-side) when you cook the burgers to put out any flare0ups (flames) that result from the melting/dripping fat from the burgers. Lightly oil both sides of all of the burgers; lightly oil the grill. Grill the burgers for about 4 minutes per side (you are aiming for about 135-140 degrees internal temperature-they will stay very juicy and moist because of the pancetta), turning them once. While the burgers cook, prepare the buns by creating a "divot" in each top bun: remove excess dough from the inside of each top bun-this will help the crispy onions stay on the burger and help the burger stay together. Lightly oil the cut sides of the buns (including inside the "divot") with canola oil. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, top each one with a slice of the Smoked Provolone cheese. Cover the grill to melt the cheese. When done, remove the burgers to a clean plate and tent with foil to rest and keep warm while you toast the buns. Place the buns, cut sides down around the edges of teh grill and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until warm and lightly toasted. Remove buns from grill and place one top and bottomm onto each of 6 plates. 8) Finish the Burgers: Drain the pickled cucumber slices and blot dry with paper towels (save the liquid to store any leftover cucumbers). Spread about 2 Tbsp. of the Parmesean Aioli onto the cut sides of each top and bottom bun (spread it into the "divot" in the top buns). Cover the bottom half of each bun with pickled cucumber slices (one layer with slices overlapping slightly). Top each bottom half with a cooked, cheese topped burger. Top each burger with about 1/2 cup of the celery onions and then the top halves of the buns. Serves 6.