grass fed burgers with pinot barbecue sauce

Something has happened to me this year that I never would have expected. I like burgers now. But I didn't start out this way, so if I really want to understand why, I suppose it started with Andrew. We all have our comfort foods and burgers are his, without a doubt. Over the years we've made our way to many restaurants in a quest to find the best burger, and when we finally found it, my brain switched.

If you haven't been, The Golden State on Fairfax in Los Angeles makes my favorite burger in the city. Now, I've never been against burgers, they just never did anything for me. Their size and ingredient ratios are often too overwhelming, and during all the times I tried Andrew's burgers, I always stopped at one bite.

However, at The Golden State, I finish my entire burger and fries with homemade ketchup. This restaurant makes one burger and makes it well. Beef, cheddar, arugula, bacon and a glossy brioche bun. I actually crave this burger, an entirely new sensation for me. It's weird. Andrew loves it. We've been to Golden State about ten times now.

Now that I'm experiencing a burger revival, my senses are heightened when I come across a recipe for one. Leave it to Bobby Flay to launch a summer Food Network series on grilling. My mouth was actually watering during this episode. I had to make it. The Fourth of July was coming up, so it was a done deal. Bobby's recipe cooks the patty's on cedar planks, but I was too afraid to brave traffic on a holiday weekend and make my way to Home Depot to pick some up. Even without this addition, the burgers, with a lip smacking red wine barbecue sauce, are extraordinary.


Grass fed beef is naturally leaner, lacking the fatty marblelization present in cows that are finished with corn. The highest fat content you're likely to find is 10%, far less than the 80/20 ratio recommended for ideal burger texture and flavor. One of the keys is to not overcook the meat. It's better to take them off the grill sooner rather than later, or the meat can become tough.

Be sure to bring the meat to room temperature before forming into patties. Season with salt and pepper immediately when you pull it out of the refrigerator to rest; this will help ensure a properly flavored burger.

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay // serves 4

Pinot Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Splash of soy sauce
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
2 cups Pinot Noir
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 portobello mushrooms
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds grass fed beef, 10% fat
Aged white cheddar, sliced
4 hamburger buns

For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a 1 quart saute pan and whisk to combine. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until thickened.

Prepare the onions and mushrooms by lightly oiling a grill and seasoning the vegetables with salt and pepper. Grill until charred and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then thickly slice the mushrooms.

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each patty loosely into a 3/4-inch patty (also use your buns as a gauge for size) and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Brush with canola oil and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.

Put the burgers on a grill or, if cooking indoors, a cast iron skillet and cook until nicely charred, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Top with slices of cheese, then cover with a lid to melt the cheese and allow the burgers to finish cooking, no more than 5 minutes.

While the burgers cook, be sure to toast the buns. Place burgers on the bottom half of each bun then top with BBQ sauce, mushrooms and onions and arugula. Serve immediately.