I should be posting a recipe, but I must honestly admit that I have never followed a recipe when preparing burgers.
I have yet to meet a devoted omnivore who does not appreciate a good burger — layers of complimentary and contrasting flavors and textures, no utensils required. In our neck of the woods, burgers have risen above the reputation of a fast-food fix or casual backyard party staple. They’ve become gastronomically revered. And rightfully so.
I do not eat burgers regularly, but when visions of them dance in my head, I see the Slow Burger, or Farm to Fork’s ground chuck rendition (I split one with a friend tonight). Because they are not in my usual repertoire (more of a treat, I’ll admit), it makes them even more appealing.
When Chef Jody Kropf sent me the proposed appetizer menu for our Tempranillo release party, the first line read, “Mini buffalo burgers with bleu cheese and marinated onions.”
I have been a long-time fan of bison (buffalo) meat. Grass-fed bison is nutritionally higher in protein and lower in fat than most conventionally grown beef. You’d think because of this, there would be a compromise in flavor. Not so. Bison is actually richer, sweeter, and milder than most beef.
Chef Jody’s bison burgers were phenomenal — small enough to tuck in to the curve of your palm, but big on flavor. Between pillows of buttery bun, he layered a well-seasoned and perfectly cooked bison patty, a sprinkling of bleu cheese crumbles, a smattering of tangy marinated onions, a blanket of soft but crispy butterleaf lettuce, and, finally, a douse of “secret sauce” — vaguely described by him as a combination of mustard and ketchup (there was more there, but he had to keep his secret).
Jimmy Buffet sings of cheeseburgers and beer (can’t argue with him, really), but the gourmet burgers I’ve encountered lately are definitely worthy of great wine. The 2008 Lange Tempranillo had just the right amount of rich fruit, spice, and tannin to play nicely with Chef Jody’s melt-in-your-mouth interpretation.