I suspect that many who consider themselves foodies may occasionally view holidays as both good and bad. On the one hand, yay for a holiday!  Occasions to spend time with people you love, and that nearly always center around food of some kind.  However, so many holidays have “classic” foods associated with them, it can leave little room for creativity or experimentation.  Ham at Easter, turkey at Thanksgiving, cookies upon cookies at Christmas.  And Memorial Day – well, obviously it’s going to involve grilling.  Likely hamburgers, hot dogs, or maybe barbecue chicken.  Probably potato salad.  That’s certainly not to imply that I don’t enjoy some of the classic fare or that I’m too snooty for that stuff (puh-lease…I love me some deviled eggs!)  But the classics don’t always get the foodie part of my brain excited.

This burger is my answer for any foodies who feel similarly about the upcoming holiday weekend.  You can still get your grill on and satisfy the urge to experiment…or of late, my urge to use goat cheese in nearly every meal. This may not look all that special on the surface, but let me tell you – herbed goat cheese, red onion jam, and basil aioli are involved, and they make this burger ah-mazing.  This is my homemade version of a burger from the best burger place in Indy.  Their menu has all sorts of interesting, jazzed up burgers.  I’ve tried the majority of them and this is by far my favorite.  It may sound fancy and complex, but you can make the red onion jam and the aioli in the time it takes your grill to heat up.  It’s totally worth the little bit of extra effort required.  (Oh and be forewarned – the aioli is addictively good.  Make some homemade fries to dip in it and let me know what time I should be over.)  I hope you all have an awesome three day weekend!  Be safe, have fun, and wear sunscreen!

  • Yield 4 servings


For the burgers: 

    1¼ lbs. ground beef or ground sirloin
    2 tbsp. finely chopped yellow onion
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 tsp. salt
    ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
    1 or 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

For the red onion jam: 

    1 tbsp. butter
    1 large red onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced
    Pinch of sugar
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    ½ cup red wine (I used pinot noir)

For the aioli: 

    1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
    1 clove garlic
    1 large egg
    1 tbsp. lemon juice
    ½ tsp. coarse salt
    6 tbsp. canola oil
    6 tbsp. olive oil
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste

To assemble: 


  • 01

    To make the burgers, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire in a large bowl.  Stir or knead together just until evenly mix.  Form into four patties about 1 inch thick with an indentation in the center.   Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium-high heat.

  • 02

    To make the red onion jam, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the onions, sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and they begin to brown.  Add about half of the red wine to the pan and let cook down, soaking into the onions.  Once the wine has been well absorbed, stir in the second half of the wine.  Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until well softened and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes total.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

  • 03

    To make the aioli, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add in the egg, lemon juice and salt and pulse briefly to combine.  With the food processor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until a thick aioli has formed.  (This can likely also be done in a blender or with an immersion blender, or even with a whisk and a lot of elbow grease.)

  • 04

    When the grill is heated, cook the patties to your liking, turning once.  Remove the finished patties to a plate and let rest briefly.  Meanwhile, place the split burger buns on the grill, cut side down, and let toast just briefly until golden brown.  Remove from the grill.  Spread a layer of the herbed goat cheese on the warmed buns.  Assemble the burgers with lettuce, the basil aioli and the red onion jam.  Serve immediately.