Taste of Michigan Burger
3/4 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. cream sherry or regular sherry
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. garlic
A pinch of sea salt
1 medium sweet Vidalia onion
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 c. ginger ale soda
12 slices hickory smoked bacon
2 lbs. ground chuck or sirloin
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 medium ginger root, thinly sliced into matchsticks
3/4 c. packed fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. Raclette cheese (semi-soft cheese made in Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan or is also a European cheese), sliced thinly (Gruyère can be used as a substitute)
6 Kaiser rolls, good quality and split
For the cherry paste:
Combine the dried cherries in a spill proof container with the creamed sherry for 2 hours to marinate on countertop. Scoop 1/2 c. of contents into a food processor or blender and chop finely. Remove and add chopped mixture with remaining 1/2c. Set aside.
For the garlic butter:
Pour cream and salt into food processor and turn on. Watch until the cream starts to thicken. Add garlic and continue to watch until cream looks solid. It will still be a softer consistency than butter. Place into a container and put in the refrigerator until needed.
Preheat a gas grill to low to cook onions, then switch to medium-high for bacon and burgers
For the caramelized onions:
Heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill with olive oil in the bottom. Place onions in for 20 minutes, watching carefully so as not to burn them. Add half of ginger ale to onions, cook for 15 minutes, then add remaining ale and cook for 10 more minutes (45 minutes in total) Watch carefully as each grill may be different. There will be no liquid in the pan when the onions are ready. Cover in aluminum foil in a separate container for later use. Turn grill up to medium-high. Use the same pan for the bacon and cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel and cover in aluminum foil to keep warm.
For the patties:
Gently combine the burger meat, salt and pepper into a bowl. Form 6 patties to fit the buns, leaving the centers with a concave area that will fill in as the burgers cook. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
For the topping:
Dump bacon grease from the skillet and wipe out with paper towel. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into pan and let heat for a couple of minutes. Add ginger root for 2 minutes and remove pan. Place ginger root in with the sweet basil and add olive oil.
Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack and close the grill, turning once after 5-7 minutes for medium done, more for further cooking. Split buns to prep for the grill. Spread about 1-2 tsp. of the cherry mixture onto each burger with 4 minutes left to cook, only lightly covering the surface. Add cheese slices next, with approximately 3 minutes left. Place buns on outer edges of the grill with 2 minutes left to lightly toast.
To assemble each burger, place equal amounts of caramelized onion on each bun bottom, then the cherry and cheese topped burgers, 2 slices of bacon cut in half for 4 smaller pieces, and equal portions of the ginger basil topping. Slather top bun on the bottom side with garlic butter, add to top and serve.