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Reds, Whites and Burgers for Memorial Day

Two innovative burgers from a great new book, plus 16 recommended reds and whites to match

Laurie Woolever
Posted: May 17, 2013

Summer is almost here—or at least the earliest definition of summer, ushered in by Memorial Day weekend. It's time for entertaining beach reads, casual clothing and long weekends away. It's time for burgers, ideally cooked outdoors and served with well-chosen wines on a deck, patio or beach.

"Making a good burger is easy," say Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson in their new book, Wicked Good Burgers. "But making what we believe is a perfect burger takes a little more effort." Husbands is the chef and owner of Tremont 647, in Boston, and a member of the award-winning iQUE barbecue team, along with Hart, who holds down a day job as a software developer. iQUE won the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in 2009, an unlikely feat for a team based in the Northeast. As with their first book, Wicked Good Barbecue, the authors seek to share their techniques and recipes in order to help home cooks elevate simple comfort food to something extraordinary—without drastically changing the nature of the beast.

The book features plenty of great recipes for burgers made with beef—classic grilled patties, sliders, burgers cooked sous vide and a giant burger for 12 cooked over a campfire in a grill basket, just to name a few. But it also gives the burger treatment to a range of animal proteins. Below you'll find a bison-based recipe that matches well with the earthy notes and red and black fruits of a Syrah or Shiraz; and a salmon burger made using belly meat whose rich texture calls out for Chardonnay. For more pairing options, look to the recently rated, recommended red and white wines following the recipes.

All-American Double Bison Cheeseburger

Recipes and text excerpted and adapted from Wicked Good Burgers by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson (Fair Winds Press 2013)

What says "American diet" more than a double cheeseburger? If one of something is good, two is better—right? How about making that cheeseburger with bison meat? Bison is leaner than beef and lower in calories (so you can afford both the extra meat and the extra cheese). Some people argue it also boasts a slightly sweeter flavor. In this recipe, we recommend using the "smash" technique—employed at some of the country's best quick-serve burger joints—that helps create a fabulous, crispy crust. Big. Sweet. Crispy. Make mine a double.

• 2 pounds bison or ground bison (ask your butcher for a blend of bison cuts that will yield an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio)
• Kosher salt to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking
• 4 large potato buns
• 8 slices yellow deli-style American cheese
• Jarred sliced pickles, for garnish
• Sliced onion, for garnish
• Ketchup and mustard, for garnish
• Special Sauce (recipe follows)

1. If grinding, cut the bison into strips and freeze until stiff, about 45 minutes. Grind using the coarse grinder plate. (We recommend storing the grinder parts in the freezer to avoid the heat created by the friction of the grinder's many moving parts.) Divide the ground meat into 8 equal portions and shape each into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Salt the tops of each bison ball.

2. Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500° F. You can also test the temperature by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it's ready.

3. If your skillet is not big enough to accommodate all of the burgers at the same time, cook them in batches. Line a platter with butcher paper or a large piece of a paper grocery bag. (We don't think paper towels are sturdy enough for this job; they absorb too much moisture and destroy the crust.) Open your windows and/or turn on your oven fan. There's gonna be some smoke!

4. Place the burgers on the skillet, salted side down. Press gently and cook for 1 minute. After 1 minute, using a sturdy spatula, smash each burger until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Salt the tops of the smashed burgers.

5. Cook for 2 more minutes and then flip the burgers. Lay a piece of American cheese on each burger and cook for 2 more minutes.

6. If cooking in batches, transfer the burgers to the platter. Repeat until all the burgers are cooked. Note that this method cooks the burgers almost through with just a bit of pink in the center. We sacrifice our usual preference for rare meat in order to get that wonderfully crispy exterior. Once you have transferred the burgers to the platter, don't cover them or put them in the oven: You want to preserve what you worked so hard to achieve.

7. To serve: Place 1 patty on the bottom half of a bun. (If you have some burgers resting from an earlier batch, place them back on the skillet for a minute to warm them up.) Stack another burger on top and garnish with pickles and onion. Spread mustard, ketchup and Special Sauce on the other bun half, and place that on the burger. Serves 4.

Special Sauce

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon pickle relish
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator, sealed tightly in a container, for up to two weeks. Makes 3/4 cup.

Salmon Burger

The key to this burger is using belly. Your fishmonger will probably be thrilled to sell it to you, as customers usually gravitate to more popular steaks and fillets. In our opinion, however, the belly is the best part of the fish. It is often used for salmon tartare, but we like it for burgers, too, because it is the fattiest part of the fish. In addition to being incredibly flavorful, it will stay juicy when cooked.

• 2 1/2 pounds salmon belly
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
• 1 egg
• 1 1/2 cups panko
• Kosher salt to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/2 lemon
• 6 hamburger buns
• Mayonnaise with minced fresh dill folded in, to taste
• Arugula, for garnish
• 2 tablespoons crème fraîche, for garnish
• 1 tablespoon minced chives, for garnish
• Dilled salmon roe (recipe follows), optional

1. Cut 2 pounds of the salmon into strips and place in the freezer until stiff, about 20 minutes. Roughly chop the remaining 1/2 pound of salmon. Remove the salmon from the freezer and grind, using the coarse or medium grind plate. If you do not have a grinder, place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and pulse until coarsely ground.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground and chopped salmon with soy sauce, mustard, garlic, parsley, egg and bread crumbs.

3. Using your hands, shape the salmon into 6 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Season with salt. Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500° F. Brush the skillet with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the skillet without overcrowding. (You may have to do this in batches.)

4. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the patties over and cook on the other side for 2 minutes until the exterior is crispy and the burgers register an internal temperature of 135° F. Transfer the patties to a platter, squeeze with lemon and tent loosely with foil. While the patties are resting, toast the buns.

5. To serve: Spread dill mayonnaise on the the bottom halves of the buns and place the burgers on top. Add a dollop of crème fraîche, a sprinkle of chives, 2 teaspoons of dilled salmon roe (if using), and a few leaves of arugula. Place the remaining halves of buns on top. Serves 6.

Dilled Salmon Roe

• 2 ounces salmon roe
• 1 tablespoon crispy crumbled bacon
• 1 shallot, peeled and julienned
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

In a small bowl, carefully mix together. You don't want to crush any of the roe. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Makes about 1/4 cup.

RECOMMENDED SYRAHS, SHIRAZES AND BLENDS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

MOLLYDOOKER Two Left Feet McLaren Vale 2011 Score: 92 | $25
Polished, ripe and generous with its blackberry, mocha and sage flavors, brilliantly focused and elegantly balanced, lingering effortlessly on the seamless finish. Complex and inviting, this should develop beautifully with cellaring. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2020. 7,800 cases made. From Australia. —H.S.

PARINGA Shiraz South Australia 2010 Score: 90 | $11
Smooth and inviting, offering a plush-textured, focused, juicy hit of blueberry, black currant and tar, singing sweetly through the extended finish. Drink now through 2017. 30,000 cases made. From Australia. —H.S.

PILLAR BOX Red Padthaway 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Velvety and ripe, offering dark berry and licorice flavors that glide smoothly through the finish. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2015. 60,000 cases made. From Australia. —H.S.

M. CHAPOUTIER Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2011 Score: 88 | $14
Firm and moderately ripe, featuring muscular flavors of dark plum, kirsch and graphite, accented by mocha and slate notes. Offers a dense and mineral-infused finish redolent of dark chocolate. Drink now through 2017. 40,000 cases made. From France. —K.M.

VIÑA FALERNIA Syrah Elquí Valley Reserva 2009 Score: 88 | $15
Spice-filled, delivering a round palate of roasted plum, game, coffee bean and herb notes. Drink now. 26,000 cases made. From Chile. —N.W.

LINDEMANS Shiraz-Cabernet South Eastern Australia Bin 55 2012 Score: 87 | $7
Fresh and vibrant, with juicy blueberry and plum fruit balanced against savory notes on the gently lingering finish. Drink now. 25,000 cases imported. From Australia. —H.S.

WOOP WOOP Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2011 Score: 87 | $14
Light and ingratiating, with pretty red berry and floral flavors, finishing with refinement. Drink now through 2015. 45,000 cases made. From Australia. —H.S.

WINE MEN OF GOTHAM Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2011 Score: 86 | $10
Fresh and spicy, with a dark berry core and peppery overtones. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. From Australia. —H.S.

RECOMMENDED CHARDONNAYS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

CHATEAU ST. JEAN Chardonnay Alexander Valley Robert Young Vineyard 2010 Score: 92 | $25
Graceful and understated, with delicate, fragrant floral, white peach, honeydew melon and smoky oak notes, all beautifully proportioned, offering a long finish. Drink now through 2019. 8,554 cases made. From California. —J.L.

SEVEN FALLS Chardonnay Wahluke Slope 2011 Score: 90 | $15
Fresh and vibrant, this white offers an array of pear, grapefruit, white pepper and floral flavors that dance through the relatively light finish, showing a touch of oak. Drink now through 2016. 10,000 cases made. From Washington. —H.S.

SNOQUALMIE Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $10
This white is polished, light and refined, with pretty pear and cream flavors showing deft balance. Drink now through 2014. 15,028 cases made. From Washington. —H.S.

WYNDHAM ESTATE Chardonnay South Eastern Australia Bin 222 2012 Score: 88 | $10
Light and refreshing, this is expressive with pear and nectarine fruit that keeps singing through the open-weave finish. Drink now. 15,000 cases imported. From Australia. —H.S.

EXCELSIOR Chardonnay Robertson 2012 Score: 87 | $10
Forward, with yellow apple, melon and light toast notes balanced by a juicy feel on the finish. A fresh, crowd-pleasing style. Drink now. 14,000 cases imported. From South Africa. —J.M.

OXFORD LANDING Chardonnay South Australia 2012 Score: 87 | $9
Supple, juicy and appealing for its pear and nectarine fruit, lingering on the generous finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases imported. From Australia. —H.S.

COLUMBIA CREST Chardonnay Washington Two Vines 2010 Score: 86 | $8
Fresh and silky, with a hint of peach to the flavor profile. Drink now. 160,000 cases made. From Washington. —H.S.

LINDEMANS Chardonnay South Eastern Australia Bin 65 2012 Score: 86 | $7
Light and polished, with pretty pear and floral flavors, finishing with a hint of toast. Drink now. 120,000 cases imported. From Australia. —H.S.

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