Vitamin B Burgers: Beef, Bacon, and Bleu
When you start with the theory that Bacon = Vitamin B, everything else just falls into place! My “Vitamin B Burgers: Beef, Bacon, and Bleu” were inspired by all of those familiar flavors I love. And, what’s better than Chardonnay and bleu cheese? Of course, a great burger always begins with great meat so I used grass fed beef from a local Amish farmer; it’s important to me that my meat come from cattle that received no hormones or antibiotics in their feed and were humanely raised. Grass fed beef is also healthier for us (higher in “good” unsaturated fats and lower in “bad” saturated fats), and it just tastes better!
Gardening is my passion and I look no further than my own backyard victory garden for inspiration. A bunker crop of shallots and the desire to fire up the grill after a long Pennsylvania winter got me started. I’m always trying to create new and interesting ways to feature the treasures from my garden and I wanted the sauce to shine in the recipe. I think that if you can’t taste the wine in a sauce you’ve put it in, what’s the point? The shallots carry the Chardonnay in such away that the blue cheese doesn’t overpower the taste. Combined with the other elements of the burger, it’s magical!
This recipe is the epitome of my cooking philosophy: The best quality ingredients that I can grow, beef produced with a care for the earth and what’s best for humans, and new flavor combinations, shapes, and textures. And, a deliciously unique burger doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive either! I had fun creating it (and eating it!) and I hope you will enjoy it, too!
Peppered Bacon Pesto
non-stick aluminum foil
12-ounces thick-sliced hardwood-smoked peppered bacon (preferably free), trimmed if necessary (about 8 slices)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1/2 packed cup (3-ounces) extra moist sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
1/2 cup freshly shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (about 1.5-ounces), preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup fresh sweet basil leaves, ribs removed and chopped
1 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
3/4 cup Sutter Home Chardonnay, room temperature
4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4-ounces bleu cheese, crumbled, preferably Stilton, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
non-stick aluminum foil
1 1/4 pounds freshly ground beef chuck (preferably organic, grass fed beef 80% lean), chilled
1 pound freshly ground beef sirloin (preferably organic, grass fed beef 80% lean), chilled
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon best quality Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (about 5-ounces) fresh organic watercress, ends trimmed, rinsed and spun to dry (Note: Organic baby or wild arugula can be substituted if watercress is out of season or unavailable), torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sweet basil, ribs removed
2 teaspoons oregano, finely chopped
Grilling and Assembling
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 original tandoori-style flatbreads (naan) measuring approximately 9-inches x 6-inches
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
non-stick aluminum foil
Preheat gas grill to medium by turning on all burners and closing lid.
To make the pesto, line a fireproof, 12-inch x 15-inch or larger, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the bacon in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet, place on grill, and cook until crispy and a well-done brown color but not charred, about 15-20 minutes. When done, remove bacon from baking sheet and place on paper toweling to cool and drain of excess grease. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts on the grill by placing them in a small fireproof skillet and stirring until lightly toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and place nuts on a small plate to cool; set aside. Into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, crumble the cooled bacon. Add the toasted pine nuts, garlic, tomatoes, cheese, basil, parsley, and lemon juice, and process until incorporated and coarsely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Slowly add olive oil and process until completely combined and ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape pesto into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside.
To make the sauce, heat olive oil and butter in a 12-inch fireproof skillet on the grill until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Add shallots and cook until softened being careful not to brown them, about 3-5 minutes. Add the chardonnay and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture breaks down and thickens as most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Note: Use a flat-edged wooden spatula or tines of a fork to break up shallots as they cook). Add cream cheese, bleu cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until cheeses are melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 2-3 minutes. Spoon mixture into a medium-sized glass bowl (at least 2-cup capacity) and cool uncovered. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap; set aside. (Note: Makes 1 1/2 cups. Mixture will be thick, spreadable, and will stick to the back of a spoon).
Increase grill temperature to medium-high.
Line a 12-inch x 15-inch or larger rimmed baking sheet with foil. To make the patties, place the ground beef chuck, ground beef sirloin, shallot, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper into a large, chilled bowl. Using a large wooden spoon, gently, but thoroughly, mix the ingredients together until incorporated; do not over mix. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions (about 6-ounces each). Divide 1 portion in half and then flatten halves into thin 4 1/2-inch round patties. Using a small offset spatula, spread a generous 1 tablespoon of the pesto to within 1/4-inch of the edge. Cover the pesto with remaining patty and press and pinch edges to seal. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining burger portions to make a total of 6 pesto filled burgers. (Note: For easier handling, place the thin bottoms on prepared baking sheet before spreading with pesto and covering with top patties). Brush patties with olive oil. Cover with foil and refrigerate or keep chilled until ready to grill.
When grill is ready, brush grill rack with vegetable oil. (Note: Use paper toweling and tongs to evenly coat grill grates with oil). Place a large platter and 6 serving plates near grill to warm. Place the patties on the grill rack, close lid, and sear until bottoms are nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes. Using a spatula, flip once, and continue grilling until desired doneness, about 4-6 minutes longer for medium. When done, remove from grill and place on warmed platter; loosely cover with aluminum foil and allow them to rest so juices can redistribute.
To make the salad, in a medium chilled bowl add olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the watercress, basil, and oregano and toss to coat; set aside. (Note: Make the salad just before assembling the burgers).
Clean the grill grate if necessary. Slice the bread in half crosswise to create 12 equal portions, lightly brush one side of the 12 flatbread portions with half the olive oil and evenly sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place bread on grill, oiled side down for 1-2 minutes or until warmed and lightly charred. While first flatbread sides are grilling, lightly brush the other sides with remaining olive oil and evenly sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Flip and grill for an additional 1-2 minutes. While second sides are grilling, place a generous 1 tablespoon dollop of the sauce on the all 12 flatbread pieces and spread to within 1/4-inch of edge. When done, remove bread slices to warmed plates, placing 2 slices on each plate. Place burgers on bread bottoms and top each burger with a 1/4 cup salad. Crown with other bread piece, sauce side down; serve hot.