Screen Porch Burgers

If you don't know, my mother loves burgers ... probably more than she loves me. That was a kinda-sorta statement, sometimes I wonder. Especially when she's hungry. I admit, I've hopped around New York eating my fair share of ground beef, even if for no other reason than it's the only red meat I can afford. Some of my favorites include Ruby's, Bar Farnelli, and The Spotted Pig.

Last year I had the opportunity to cook and style for a Better TV shoot with Chef Jeff Starr, the Executive Chef of Sutter Homes Winery and their “Build a Better Burger” Contest.

The contest winner this year, Jennifer Beckman of Falls Church, Virginia came up north to share with Gayle King (I'm saying that in the "Oprah voice" right now ... ) on The Gayle King Show. Jennifer's Screen Porch Burgers pair with Sutter Homes Sauvignon Blanc.

I had the chance to meet Jennifer and tackle some unusual cooking conditions ... frozen pickles, smoke alarms, gas stove-top temperature control, etc. but Gayle ate every bite ... well, almost every bite. A success, none the less. Below I've shared the recipe and comments from Jennifer herself. To see full coverage check out the official Build a Better Burger site.

Screen Porch Burgers

by: Jennifer Beckman, Falls Church, Virginia


Sweet Corn-Basil Cheese

6 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 cup sweet corn kernels, from about 3 ears
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Bread and Butter Frickles

1 cup vegetable oil
12 long sandwich-cut (stacker) bread and butter pickles
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided


2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 King's Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls
6 slices (1/4 inch-thick) heirloom tomato
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 leaves red-leaf lettuce


To make the cheese spread, shred the Cheddar on a box grater. Combine the cheese, corn, basil, and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and stir to blend. Set aside until ready to serve.

Heat a gas grill to high.

To make the frickles, heat a large cast-iron skillet on the grill for at least 5 minutes. Carefully add the oil to the hot pan and heat to 350 degrees F. While the pan is heating, lay out the pickle slices in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Blot with a second kitchen towel. Arrange 3 small bowls into a breading station: place the flour in the first, beat the eggs and milk together in the second, and mix the cornmeal and panko in the third. Season the contents of each bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix to combine. Bread the dried-off pickle slices by turning in the flour, then dipping in the egg mixture, and finally coating with the panko-cornmeal mixture. Fry the breaded pickles in batches, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 90 seconds per side. Drain on a rack set over a paper-towel-lined sheet pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-high.

To make the patties, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix gently. Divide into 6 equal portions and form into 3/4-inch-thick patties to fit the rolls.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. After turning the patties, arrange the rolls, cut side down, around the edges of the grill to toast.

To assemble the burgers, place a patty on each of the roll bottoms. Top each patty with 2 crisscrossed frickles, a tomato slice, and a lettuce leaf. Spread the top half of each roll with a scant 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and close the burgers.

Enjoy on the screen porch, listening to the soothing sounds of a summer evening, accompanied by a crisp, cold glass of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc.

Makes 6 burgers Suggested Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Contestant’s Comments:

"My parents have retired to a small farm in Maine in the foothills of the White Mountains. Summers are short but hot, perfect for growing the armloads of sweet, crisp summer vegetables that my family and I devour when we visit. Happiness, for me, is sitting on the huge screen porch, listening to the tree peepers chirp, sipping a cool glass of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc, and noshing on burgers filled with the farm's bounty: sweet corn, basil, scallions, heirloom tomatoes, and Mom's bread and butter pickles from just-picked cukes."