The deep fruit flavors of the Kilikanoon Shiraz are well served by these hearty burgers. Blue cheese and lamb stand up to the bold structure of the wine but don’t overwhelm it. Take a sip of the wine, then a bite of the burger, and see how the food brings the wine’s fruit flavors to the fore while softening its tannins. The slight bitterness of the fresh green herbs in the pesto takes the edge off the tannins, while the herbs’ flavors echo an herbal quality in the wine.
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For the parsley-mint pesto:
3/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1/2 tsp. salt
For the lamb burgers:
6 oz. blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Farmstead Blue, at room temperature
3 lb. ground lamb
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To make the pesto, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley, mint, garlic and olive oil and process until smooth. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts and salt and process until all the ingredients are combined. Set aside.
To make the lamb burgers, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for grilling over medium heat. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
Divide the blue cheese evenly into 6 pieces and shape each piece into a 2-inch disk. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the lamb, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper. Do not overmix. Divide the lamb into 6 portions. Mold each portion around a piece of cheese and shape into a rough ball, then flatten slightly into a 4-inch-diameter patty, making sure the cheese is completely encased within the lamb. Place the patties on the prepared tray, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Grill the burgers, turning once, until the cheese is melted and the meat is mediumrare, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve the burgers with the pesto.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine, “Lunch on the Porch,” by Donata Maggipinto (Summer 2002).
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