And now part deux of the divoreee vacay extravaganza..
Obviously no 4th of July celebration is complete without that culinary American icon, the burger. And don’t get us wrong, we love juicy, meaty burgers (along with apple pie and freedom). But, it is equally obvious that divorcee vacay calls for a bit of panache, something beyond the red meat and yellow cheese standard. This last point is especially important, as no cheese connoisseur with any street cred is going to slap a Kraft single on a meat patty and call it a day.
Let’s face it, cheeses are like cars; the best are imported. Then again, can we really choose Toyota over Ford on America’s birthday? After considering our dilemma, we settle on the delicious compromise of Maytag blue cheese, a fabulous blue hailing from the middle of nowhere, Iowa. More piquant (read: yummy) than cheddar, and more Independence Day appropriate than its French cousins (and to be honest, we wonder about the availability of Roquefort at the Anna Maria Publix grocery).
Having decided on blue cheese, caramelized onions seem like the obvious choice of topping. They just go together, like a hot day and a cold beer, a break-up and a batch of raw cookie dough… you get the idea. Finally, we tackle the most basic element of the burger: the meat. Not wanting to mess too much with a good thing, we opt for a mixture of about two parts lean, ground sirloin and one part sausage. After our initial search for andouille proves to be a bust (“ando-what?” says the Publix guy), we choose a pleasantly spicy chorizo. As a last touch, we grab some Georgia pecans to toast, chop, and mix into the patties to add a little texture.
Dinner: Chorizo burgers with caramelized onions and blue cheese sauce, and grilled corn with chipotle honey lime butter with 7 Deadly Zins vino.
- 3/4 lb. ground, lean sirloin (90/10)
- 1/4 lb. (roughly) chorizo sausage (uncured), sausage removed from casing.
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large red onion (or 2 small), cut into thin, inch-long slices
- healthy splash of Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed with the back of a chef’s knife, and chopped.
- large pinch of brown sugar
- small splash, roughly 1 tsp (or more to taste) of balsamic vinegar
Brandied Maytag blue cheese sauce:
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced finely
- roughly 3 oz. of Maytag blue (another blue would work, although Maytag is particularly great for melting)
- light splash of brandy, about 1 Tbsp.
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
After an afternoon of sun-bathing, cocktail-drinking, and man-bashing, we head into the kitchen to prepare the onions and make the patties. We toss the chopped onions in a skillet over medium heat with olive oil, a couple of minced garlic cloves, and a generous pinch of brown sugar. After about ten minutes of frequent stirring and when the onions are golden brown, we turn the heat down to medium low, add a small splash of balsamic vinegar, and let them cook for another 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the onions are caramelizing, we put the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Once they turn fragrant, we take them out, chop finely, and mix them in with our sirloin.
We think it’s not in our best interest to experiment with chorizo cooked rare, so we take it out of the casing, crumble, and brown in a skillet, leaving some pink in the middle. Then this too gets mixed in with the sirloin. We add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to season, and we shape into patties and move our operation outside onto the grill.
Sides: To jazz up our side dish, good ol’ corn on the cob, we mix up one stick of butter, softened to room temperature, with lime juice, one chipotle chili (from the can with adobo sauce), a spoonful of adobo sauce and honey to taste.
Vino: At this point too much time has elapsed since afternoon cocktails, and we can’t hold out any longer. So, we uncork our chosen burger wine, 7 Deadly Zins (gotta love those clever Californians and their puns). With lush, dark fruits combined with a healthy dose of tobacco and cloves, it’s a fabulous burger wine that will stand up to the spice in the chorizo.
Burgers: We toss the patties on one side of the grill with two ears of corn (ok , for full disclosure, we scorched two ears of corn previously but luckily had two to spare) and then place a skillet on the other side, which we use for the piece de resistance: our blue cheese sauce.
Sauce: We start with a generous splash of olive oil, and then we sauté two crushed garlic cloves until the oil smells delicious… and garlicy. Then we add the cheese, whisking until just melted. Finally, because we’re pretty certain that alcohol makes everything better, we add a splash of brandy, taking the skillet off heat almost immediately and continuing to whisk. Note to the cost conscious (like ourselves): by far the most inexpensive ingredient on our list, we obtained a travel-sized bottle of brandy at our local liquor store for a grand total of $1.
At this point, the burgers are ready. We pile caramelized onions on toasted buns, top with sausage/sirloin patties, and then pour on the sauce. As predicted, our burgers are freaking fantastic, the wine is a perfect match, and brandy + blue cheese = AWESOME.