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Carl Hudson
June 10, 2020 | Food & Wine | Carl Hudson

Great CheeseBurgers on the Grill

With warm weather that seems to be around most of the year here in the Texas Hill Country, backyard grilling becomes an important part of our lives.  Steaks, chicken, ribs, salmon, shrimp, sausage, and, of course, burgers are all targets for grill treatment.  While hosting 4.0 Cellars Texas Cheese and Wine Experience pairings, discussions often relate to foods that use the delicious Texas cheeses offered.  My favorite is Mac and Cheese and these recipes have been posted in previous Carl’s Corner editions.  However, another topic that often arises during these cheese and wine pairings is how to prepare a delicious cheeseburger on the grill.  So, here is the recipe and a discussion of my favorite method, along with some side dishes that also work well on the grill. 

This simple approach to delicious grilled burgers involves the primary components of meat, cheese, spices, and sauce.  Each of these will be discussed in more detail, but let’s start with the meat.  Beef is, of course, the most common and popular ground meat for burgers.  However, there are a number of other options.  My standard burger mix includes a half-and-half blend of ground beef (85-15 or 80-20), and ground turkey (usually 90-10, lean vs fat).  Combining beef with ground pork, lamb, chicken, or a good ground sausage will change the characteristics of a burger, and may suit your taste better than beef alone.  Adding Jimmy Dean Sage breakfast sausage to my burger mix is particularly tasty. 

The next ingredient to consider is cheese, in this case, grated or shredded cheese.  The idea is to add the cheese to the meat and mix together so that the flavors integrate while cooking on the grill.  Besides, with cheese mixed into the burger, you eliminate that aggravating problem of having a slice of cheese slide off the burger patty as it melts.  One of the favorite cheeses to use is Veldhuizen Jalapeno Cheddar that adds a just-right spicy component to the burger.  Other cheeses that work well are sharp cheddar (yellow or white), pepper jack, Swiss, Muenster, and other Veldhuizen cheeses, like Texas Star, Dublin Karst, and Redneck Cheddar. 

Spices to flavor the meat are an important part of a good burger.  I normally use simple flavorings like a good season-all salt, McCormicks or TexJoy steak seasoning, some freshly ground pepper, onion and/or garlic powder.  Spicier Creole seasonings like Tony Chachere’s or Zatarain’s, or maybe red pepper flakes add some zest.  There are so many herb seasonings to consider, either dried or fresh.  Some from my cabinet include rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, oregano, cumin seeds, chives, etc.  And don’t forget mustard, dry ground, or prepared yellow or coarse versions.  Here in Texas, the addition of finely chopped peppers, like jalapeno or Hatch chiles, seems to be popular.  One might also consider more unusual additives like allspice or nutmeg just to give your burgers an interesting twist of flavor.  Get creative and figure out what works best for you. 

The final component in this burger recipe is sauce.  My unequivocal favorite is Fischer and Wieser’s Blackberry Chipotle Sauce that adds some subtle spice notes along with a hint of fruit.  There are a number of other Fischer and Wieser products, including their flagship Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, that work well in these burgers, ranging from fruity and marginally sweet, all the way to very spicy - bordering on just plain hot.  Traditional sauces like A-1 Steak, Worcestershire, Soy, etc., are good choices.  Barbecue sauces of many types are available, and I prefer a Texas original like Stubb’s regular.  Again, be creative and find what works best for you. 

The recipe you ask, well for two pounds of ground meat the suggestion is 12-16 ounces of grated or shredded cheese, 1 cup (or less) of sauce, depending on texture and flavor, plus the spices that one prefers.  Mix it all up in a large bowl, press out burger patties the size and thickness desired, and get them on the grill.  Yum! 

To accompany grilled burgers, there are a number of vegetables that can be cooked alongside the meat, including slices of regular or sweet potato, asparagus, corn on the cob, strips of zucchini or squash, thick slices of tomato, etc.  Just brush with olive oil or melted butter, season, and grill until tender. 

Finally, what do you drink with these burgers?  Traditional choices include sweet tea, Dr. Pepper, or cold beer.  However, my suggestion is a good wine like one of the following available from 4.0 Cellars:  Lost Oak Winery Holiday or Sadie, slightly sweet reds for spicy burgers, McPherson Cellars Les Copains Rosé or EVS Windblown Rosé (both dry), Lost Oak Winery Cabernet Franc, Brennan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo or Super Nero (Nero d’Avola blend), and McPherson Cellars EVS Windblown Red blend.  Bon Appetit! 

Mac & Cheese – Comfort Food Extraordinaire, Carl’s Corner, 24-Oct-2018


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