Fri 19 Jun 2009
No, that’s not the title of a two-person law firm.
Despite the fact that it’s hot as blazes in this neck o’ the woods, I decided to grill hamburgers outdoors last night to pair with the Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2007 that I was presenting to an online wine tasting. The joke — haha! — was on me though, because I discovered at the last possible frantic, hectic moment …… that we were out of charcoal. Well, O.K., there’s nothing wrong with a burger fried in a cast-iron skillet. What you lose in smokiness, you gain in richness and flavor derived from sizzling olive oil and a few drops of bacon fat. Vegan spoiler alert: There’s a lot of meat in this meal.
I followed, pretty much, a recipe for “Steakhouse Burgers” in the Summer 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated devoted to grilling. The article calls for ground beef that is 85 to 90 percent lean; I bought ground sirloin that was 95 percent lean. You add the fat back to the burger though three tablespoons of bacon fat; use the fried bacon on the burger, if you wish. For binder, you soak two slices of white bread in a quarter-cup of milk and mash it into a paste. Combine the meat (one and a half pounds), the bacon fat, the bread-and-milk paste, salt, pepper and three cloves of minced garlic and shape into four fairly large patties.
The result was probably the best, the juiciest, the most flavorful hamburger I have even eaten, though LL, while conceding that the burger was delicious, thought that the texture was too smooth.
The Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2007 is a blend, we are told, of 90.4 percent zinfandel, 6.1 percent petite sirah and 2.5 percent syrah, and if the quick-witted among my readers instantly perceive that those figures total 99 percent, I won’t contradict you. The opposite of a blockbuster zin, this is smooth and sleek but with plenty of substance and structure, the smoothness a little roughened, as if it had been stroked a few times with sandpaper; it’s a pleasing sensation. The bouquet is a seductive amalgam of black currants and black cherry, smoke and spice, briers and brambles. The wine is quite dry yet juicy (but not “jammy”), that lusciousness balanced by polished oak and soft, chewy tannins and the essential point of lively acidity. The finish brings in strains of minerality and clean earthiness, along with a late burgeoning of spice. Terrific with our burgers, this would be a satisfying wine with all sorts of grilled meat dishes, full-flavored pastas and Mexican fare. Very Good+. About $15, marking a Great Value.
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