RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Umami Burgers

This umami-inspired recipe offers an exquisite combination of flavors. Umami is the less-well-known fifth taste receptor on our tongues. The origin is Japanese and basically means the essence of savory or delicious. The umami receptor also enables us to savor and appreciate red wine—the perfect accompaniment to this burger.


6 slices pancetta or bacon
2 pounds ground beef (preferably half chuck and half sirloin)
1/3 cup chopped baby portobello mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup prepared tomato-based Bruschetta topping, preferably fresh refrigerated
2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Pinot Noir wine
Vegetable oil, for brushing on grill rack
6 Ciabatta rolls, split
8 ounces aged Asiago cheese, coarsely grated


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high (or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover). Place the pancetta on the grill and cook, turning once, until slightly charred around the edges and cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. When cool enough to handle, crumble and set aside.

To make the patties: Mix the crumbled pancetta, ground beef, mushrooms, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl, handling the mixture as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. Cover and set aside.

To make the Warm Tomato Olive Relish: Combine the Bruschetta topping, olives, and Sutter Home Pinot Noir wine in a small fire-proof saucepan.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium, depending on the shape and thickness. When turning the burgers, place the saucepan containing the relish toward the outer edge of the grill and heat, stirring occasionally until warm and bubbly and liquid is reduced. Remove from the grill. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack until toasted lightly, and top each patty with an equal amount of cheese.

To assemble the burgers: Place the cheese-topped patties on roll bottoms and top with equal portions of Warm Tomato Olive Relish. Add the roll tops and serve.


Most markets and grocery stores carry wonderful prepared fresh tomato Bruschetta toppings in the refrigerated case. If unavailable, use a good-quality Bruschetta topping from a jar.