Patriotic Pairings

Infuse your Fourth of July barbeque with these summer-inspired recipes and American red, white and rosé wines.


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Not only is the Fourth of July a celebration of our freedom, but it’s also the symbol of summer’s arrival. For your Independence Day backyard barbeque, try these food and wine pairings that couple summertime fare with all-American wines, bringing a little extra patriotism to your table.

Blue Cheese Hamburger

Courtesy of Ewell Sterner, Director of Food and Beverage at Sundance Resort, Utah

3 pounds ground beef
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup minced fresh minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg

To make patties: Preheat grill to 350°F.  In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, blue cheese, chives, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Add the egg and mix well. Shape the meat into 5 ounce patties.

To cook: On the preheated grill, cook patties for 4 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 minutes per side for medium or 8 minutes per side for well-done.  Serves 8.

Chef Sterner’s Tips:

- Make sure you oil the grate before grilling to prevent the burgers from sticking.
- First sear the burgers over hot coals or gas to lock in those juices, then move them away from the heat so they can cook slower inside.
- For the most flavor, start with a little pepper and a light butter rub, then season with salt and more pepper before taking them off the grill.
- Don't pierce the burgers. Just touch them with your finger and if it's soft and wobbly, it's rare. For medium it gets a little firmer. And if it's hard, you've gone too far.

Wine Pairing:

“When you’re talking about beef, virtually any red wine is a go as an ideal pairing, but with burgers, it’s important to pay close attention to the toppings du jour in order to fine tune your wine selection,” says Lauren Buzzeo, assistant tasting director for Wine Enthusiast. “With the aggressive blue cheese in this burger, juicy and jammy reds with ripe berry flavors offer the perception of sweetness, countering the pungency and salinity of the blue cheese. These wines often also have enough spice, weight and overall character to stand up to the assertive flavors of this burger. While an Argentine Malbec or Australian Shiraz would be a fine choice, in the spirit of Independence Day, I recommend a California Zinfandel like the Bonterra 2008 Zinfandel from Mendocino County at $15 or the Dry Creek Vineyard 2007 Beeson Ranch Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, known for producing some of the best Zins in the state, at around $30.”

Old-Fashioned Maine Lobster Roll:

Courtesy of Adrian Hoffman, Culinary Director of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group in Napa, California.

12 ounces lobster meat, cooked and diced (from a 3-pound fresh lobster)
2 tablespoons celery, diced
2 tablespoons dill pickle, diced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 soft roll buns, hotdog style
¼ cup softened butter

For the lobster salad: In a medium bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, dill pickle, lemon juice, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Keep chilled until ready to use.

To serve: Using a serrated knife, split the buns down the middle, without separating each side completely. Brush softened butter on the bun’s interior and toast until golden. Fill with the lobster salad. Serves 4.

Hoffman’s Tips:

- All fish are not created equal. Some require precision cooking, others are more forgiving, so pay attention when preparing the seafood ingredient. 
- You can serve this dish with a simple side of potato chips or coleslaw.

Wine Pairing:

“On the east coast especially, nothing says summertime like a traditional lobster roll. For this pairing, I suggest a white wine from New York. If you’re in the Hamptons, look no further than Wölffer’s 2010 Classic White ($15), a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 30% Riesling and 25% Gewürztraminer, with its ripe tropical fruit flavors, creamy mouthfeel and vibrant finish, making it a perfect match for seafood,” says Buzzeo. “Another option is to look to New York’s other popular wine-producing region, the Finger Lakes; the Sauvignon Blanc from visionary winemaker Steve Shaw is excellent. Shaw’s 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($16) is balanced and complex with notes of ripe gooseberry and quince that mingle seamlessly with herbs, grass and a lime zest astringency, providing a nice counter to the sweet lobster meat without overwhelming the delicate flavors.”

Miner’s Lettuce, Beans, Peas and Spring Garlic

Courtesy of Ethan Stowell, executive chef and owner of Seattle restaurants Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives and Staple & Fancy Mercantile.

1½ pounds fava beans, shucked
1 cup English peas, shucked
2 stalks spring garlic, stem only (reserve bulb for another use)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 fresh egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup canola oil
6 cups loosely packed miner’s lettuce
Pecorino Toscano, for serving

For the fava beans and peas: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice-water bath. Blanch the fava beans for 1 to 2 minutes to loosen skins, then quickly strain and submerge in the ice-water bath. Slip off the skins and then drain thoroughly before setting aside. Repeat the process with the peas.

For the spring garlic: Thinly slice the stems of the garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over low heat and sauté the garlic for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with kosher salt.

For the vinaigrette: In a food processor bowl or blender, combine the vinegar, water, egg yolk, mustard and a pinch of salt in a blender bowl. Pulse to combine. In a slow, steady stream, add the canola oil and the remaining olive oil to form an emulsion.

To serve: Place the lettuce, fava beans and peas in a medium bowl and top with the fried garlic chips. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables and greens, tossing gently to combine. Divide among four plates and, using a vegetable peeler, shave pecorino Toscano on top. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Stowell Tips:

- Head to the farmers' market for fresh produce. Spring garlic, fava beans and English peas are in season.
- If you're grilling the main course, grill the vegetables too and serve them all on a tray.
- There's no rule in any book that says anything has to be served piping hot. Now is a good time for room-temperature salads and vegetables.

Wine Pairing:

“This is an interesting recipe with a lot of different flavors and textures. When going with a vegetarian dish or an intricate and flavorful salad like this, I tend to opt for a dry rosé,” Buzzeo recommends. “The subtle sweet red berry flavors in the wine will complement the English peas and delicate tannins and structure will play nicely with the earthy fava beans. The wine’s moderate acidity will balance the vinaigrette. If you choose a wine with low acidity, the dressing will only seem all the more tart and jarring. Try one from the Pacific Northwest, like the Tranche 2010 Pink Pape Dry Rosé from Walla Walla Valley ($16) or the Barnard Griffin 2010 Rosé of Sangiovese from Columbia Valley ($12).”

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