I have to confess that I'm not a huge sports fan. I grew up in a house with 3 sisters (and one patient brother) and none of us were particularly athletic, so sports have never been a huge part of my life. Then I ended up going to college at Syracuse University and our basketball team (featuring one Carmelo Anthony) won the national championship during my freshman year. When that happens, you sort of have to become a basketball fan. Football though, has never really been my thing.
You know what I do love about football season? Tailgating! Or more generally, an excuse to wear a hoodie, eat cheesy and/or fried food, and drink alcohol on a Sunday afternoon. Not being much of a beer girl anymore, I like to class up my day drinking with a glass of wine-- and maybe a classic French spin on your standard cheeseburger.
This French Onion Cheeseburger is a mashup of two tasty and decadent dishes: a grilled hamburger on a toasty brioche bun is topped with caramelized onions slow cooked and flavored with a little beef broth and red wine for that rich French onion soup flavor. I melted nutty Gruyere cheese over the top, which is the perfect creamy and melty cheeseburger topping-- and what you'd traditionally find bubbling on top of your soup crock. It's all finished off with a swipe of spicy Dijon for extra French flavor. It's a fancy looking burger that's actually really easy to put together-- even for a tailgate. Slice your cheese and carmelize the onions at home. Pack them up along with your Dijon and then grill your burgers and rolls onsite, assemble, and enjoy!
And while that covers food, let's talk about drinks for a moment. As I mentioned, I'm more of a wine than beer drinker these days. The only downside is that wine is typically not very convenient unless you're sitting at your dining room table or in a restaurant. It requires an opener and it comes in a big (breakable) glass bottle that's difficult to pack, reseal, or dispose of when you're done... Not ideal for tailgating. That is, unless you're drinking Bonfire wines.
Bonfire is the perfect wine for tailgates, cookouts, picnics, and the like. It comes in a handy and transportable pouch that chills 65% faster than a traditional wine bottle with a built-in spout for pouring-- no corks needed and accidental spills are kept to a minimum. The pouch also holds 1.5 liters of wine, which is the equivalent of 2 bottles. Other perks? The eco-friendly pouch is easy on the environment and a great bargain-- The pouch retails for $15.99-$16.99 (and remember, it's the equivalent of 2 bottles!) at stores like Mariano's and Whole Foods in the Chicagoland area.
Bonfire is available in two varieties: Ignite, a sweet white blend and Ember, a dryer red blend. I paired our burgers with Ember and it was the perfect chilly night dinner-- and would be great to warm you up while sitting in the parking lot outside Soldier Field too!
French Onion Cheeseburgers Recipe
- 3 Tbs. butter, divided
- 2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbs. Bonfire Ember red wine
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 4 (1/4 lb.) hamburger or bison burger patties
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 oz. Gruyere cheese, sliced
- 4 brioche buns
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions to the pan along with one pinch of salt and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, onions should be very soft and golden, but not browned or crispy.
Stir in the thyme leaves and pour the wine and half the beef broth into the onions. Stir frequently until broth is absorbed and then add remaining broth and repeat.
Preheat a grill to medium high heat and lightly oil the grates.
Season burgers with salt and pepper and grill (with the grill cover pulled down) over medium heat for 5-8 minutes on each side or until cooked to desired level of doneness and juices run clear. Top each patty with Gruyere cheese slices. Grill for 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.
Melt remaining butter in a griddle or skillet pan over medium high heat. Place each half the brioche buns inside side down until warm and golden brown.
Spread Dijon mustard on the inside of the top halves of each bun. Place a warm cheese burger on the bottom half of each bun, top with onions, and serve.