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Cheeseburger au poivre

Jacqueline Zonkowski
Wine Pairings: Zinfandel

A perfect summer food and wine pairing for the bold flavor lover


Savvy match: This gourmet cheeseburger au poivre is the perfect pairing for a classic Zinfandel as they each enhance the other’s flavor. The smokiness and high acidity in the Zinfandel draw out the savory, meaty flavors of the burger fresh off the grill. The gouda is also a perfect balance with the Zinfandel, both bold and can hold their own but melt together when paired.

We recommend doing the work and making an incredible gourmet cheeseburger using freshly ground beef and adding some of that culinary flair you can only find with the French! If you have a meat grinder at home, pull that baby out, and get messy. If you don’t have one, visit your butcher and ask them to grind this ratio for you on the spot, and they will usually do it happily. This is the much easier and faster option, and honestly, who doesn’t love going to the butcher shop? I know I do.


  • *Instant Read Thermometer, meat grinder, or meat grinder attachment
  • sirloin (1 pound)
  • 80% lean chuck (1/2 pound)
  • 8 potato or brioche buns
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought beef stock
  • 1 sprig each rosemary and thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (I prefer British Double Cream)
  • thickly sliced gouda



Cut sirloin and chuck into 2" chunks and toss together. Place all meat grinder parts into the freezer for about an hour before use, and place cubed beef into the freezer about 15 minutes before use. Pass the cubed beef through the meat grinder on its slowest setting. Run the meat through a second time, on a faster setting. This will give the meat better texture and consistency.


Form ground beef into 6 oz patties or larger based on the fat content. The fattier the meat, the more it will shrink during cooking. While forming the patties, do not work the meat together too much. The meat's coarse grind will allow the rendering fat and juices to release while being kept inside the burger from the initial sear. Allow patties to come to room temp while you make the sauce.


For the Sauce

Place peppercorns in a large zip lock bag or in between a clean folded kitchen towel. Using a meat tenderizer, mallet, or heavy cast iron pan, crush peppercorns into very coarse pieces. 


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, add the shallot, minced garlic, and peppercorns. Cook until shallot is soft and stir consistently so that the garlic does not brown or burn. Add the cognac/brandy, and cook until the alcohol smell is gone, about 2-3 minutes. Be very careful during this step, as alcohol can flare up, so keep a safe distance and watch your pan. If there is a flare-up, that's ok, it will just cook the alcohol out faster, and the flame will burn out quickly. Add the beef stock, and bring to a simmer. 


Scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and allow the stock to reduce for about 8 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and Dijon mustard. Continue to reduce until sauce is very thick and can well coat the back of a spoon. Remove the whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and discard.


Finishing the burgers and assembly

Preheat the grill to high heat, and clean the grates well. Season the burger patties with salt and pepper, and place on a very hot grill. Allow to cook until well seared on the first side, about 3-4 minutes, flip burgers, and sear the other side.  


Place thick slices of gouda on each burger once flipped and cooked until juices run clear and internal temp reaches 160 F. Allow burgers to rest for 5 minutes before serving. If adding tomato, pickles, lettuce, etc., place them on the bottom bun. Place burger on top of the bun, and ladle over your au Poivre sauce. Enjoy!

Chef Image

About Jacqueline Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.