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Pacific Beach Burgers (with Avocado Green Goddess Aioli and Citrus-Chipotle Marinated Red Onions)

I grew up in Pacific Beach (San Diego) California, three blocks from the Pacific Ocean and a short drive to Mexico. Even though I now reside in Montana this burger is a reflection of the many memories from my "foodie" formative years. A time in my life where I was surrounded by the incredible bounty of Southern California; fragrant fresh herbs, an abundance of avocados (grown in our own backyard), a plethora of citrus fruits, chilies and an introduction to the different and delicous cheeses of Mexico. While I can no longer grill year-round, unless one is willing to risk frostbite and hypothermia, I take advantage of the season as long as possible. When I do grill, I want it to be something extra special and I think these "local" burgers of my past fit the bill quite nicely.


Avocado Green Goddess Aioli
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup coarsely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 drained and finely chopped (oil packed) anchovy fillets
1/2 cup grated cotija or dry Jack cheese (plus additonal for sprinkling)
1 small ripe California Avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon or fresh lime juice

Citrus-Chipotle Marinated Red Onions:
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice or fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Tabasco Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 red onion, peeled, sliced into thin rings

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 tablespoon Weber Grill Creations Gourmet Burger or Smokey Mesquite Seasoning
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
1/2 cup drained and chopped (oil packed) sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt

12 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon or pepper bacon

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 Kaiser or good-quality hamburger rolls, split
2 small bunches arugula


Preheat a gas grill to medium-hot or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.

To make the Avocado Green Goddess Aioli, combine cilantro, scallions, parsley, mint, garlic, anchovies, and cheese in food processor; process until paste-like consistency. (Remove and reserve 1/2 the mixture for patties.) Add avocado, mayonnaise, and lemon juice to remaining mixture; process until smooth. Cover and chill.

To make the Citrus-Chipotle Marinated Red Onions, in small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Tabasco Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce, sugar and salt. Add red onion rings; tossing to mix. Set aside until serving, stirring occasionally. (Drain before serving.)

To make the patties, combine the chuck, reserved Green Goddess mixture, Weber Grill Creations Seasoning, wine, sun-dried tomatoes, and salt in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Wrap in foil to keep warm.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last few minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread the Avocado Green Goddess Aioli over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place some arugula leaves, a patty, a generous sprinkling of cheese, 2 bacon slices, and an equal amount of marinated red onions. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers


While this recipe may seem like a lot of ingredients and steps, it comes together quite easily. This boldly flavored burger is perfectly complemented by a glass (or two) of spicy, peppery, and fruity Sutter Home Zinfandel.