I took my first of many wine vacations in 1988. I was staying in what was then the small town of Healdsburg, quaintly nestled in Sonoma. When it came time for dinner, the owners of the Camelia Inn B&B directed me to one of the few restaurants in town back then – Bistro Ralph. I’ve been in love with that place ever since.
I recently introduced some friends to Bistro Ralph, where we shared a leisurely lunch. The combination of this lamb burger and the Rhone wine we selected was so memorable, it’s become one of my favorite easy meals.
This recipe originally appeared in the December, 2008 shipment to our club members. It played chaperon to a bottle of the Tous les Jours syrah from Andrew Murray Vineyards, and that youthful wine remained well behaved under its careful tutelage.
Ingredients (serves 4 – 6)
1 Red onion, peeled, halved and sliced
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Crumbled Goat cheese, or to taste
1 ½ – 2 Lbs ground lamb
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt, to taste
4 -6 Good buns
1-2 Heads Bibb lettuce
Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat until hot, add the olive oil then the onion. Sauté until well caramelized and dark but not crispy – 10-15 minutes. Add the balsamic and integrate well, remove from heat and add the goat cheese. Stir to coat and melt slightly. Set aside. Can be re-heated
In a large bowl, combine minced garlic, thyme, cumin, pepper, and salt. Add the ground lamb and combine. Be careful not to over-handle the meat (and I caution those of you with dirty minds to get them out of the gutter right now) or the consistency of your burger will be mushy.
Form 4 patties, each about 3/4 inch thick. Place on a medium-high grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side, or broil or sauté for ~5 minutes per side.
Brush buns with olive oil, toast slightly, scrape once with a peeled garlic clove, and set aside.
Assembly – Place burger on bun, top with lettuce, then with onions. Spread goat cheese on underside of top bun, pour a glass of wine, and call me if this isn’t transcendent.
Dave the Wine Merchant