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6 Jun 2010

Backyard grilling: Sliding into summer with savory sliders

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June 6, 2010 Category: Food And Beverage Posted by:



The backyard barbecue grilling season is in full swing and hamburgers continue to reign supreme as one of America’s favorite grilled foods. Whether you cook with gas or charcoal, nothing beats the flavor of a juicy burger right off the grill. And, whether you’re into bold flavors or basic toppings, nothing tops off a burger better than a great glass of wine.


While many backyard cooks have mastered the art of grilling a full-size burger, most shy away from the smaller version known as the “slider.” Wildly popular in restaurants throughout the country, these bite-sized burgers are a snap to prepare on the grill and pair perfectly with a great tasting glass of red wine. And, by dishing out sliders, you use less meat (which helps you save) and keep your family happy.


The origin of the slider is attributed to real estate and insurance agent Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram who teamed up with cook Walter Anderson to open the first White Castle hamburger stand in Wichita, Kan., in 1921. The restaurant served up patties of ground meat cooked on a griddle, plenty of diced onions, a pickle slice and served on a soft yeast bun. In those days, serving a burger with wine was unheard of but fortunately, those days are behind us.


“The right wine works like a spice, helping to enhance the flavors of your grilled food,” says Georgetta Dane, winemaker for the popular and well acclaimed Big House wines. Big House (so named because it is made near Soledad Prison in Monterey County, California) is a quirky but delicious blend of 21 Italian and French varietals such as Sangiovese, Syrah and Grenache.


“It’s ripe and fruity with good structure,” says Sam Gugino, contributing editor to Wine Spectator magazine, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author. “It’s a favorite summer sipper for me and it pairs very well with burgers, steaks and lamb chops.”


“Paprika is one of my favorite spices. I use just a pinch along with a tablespoon of Big House Red to really make the flavors come together,” notes Georgetta. “I serve these along with the 2008 Big House Red in the 3-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar cask. The wine pairs very well with the sliders and allows my guests to easily serve themselves. The new package guarantees freshness for at least six weeks once opened.”


For summer entertaining, Georgetta’s Sliders are easy to prepare, full of flavor and a real crowd pleaser. Pair them with red wine and you have the ultimate worry-free barbecue.


For more information on Big House and Octavin Home Wine Bar wines, go to


Tips on serving wine with your grilled dinners:


  • Eat and drink what you like. Experiment with your preferences. You never know what great matches you’ll discover.
  • One three-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar equals four (750ml) bottles or 20 five-ounce glasses of artisan wine.
  • Plan for one to two glasses of wine per person, per event.
  • If possible, offer a different glass for each varietal (whites and reds).


Georgetta’s Sliders

Serves four


1 teaspoon onion powder

1 pinch paprika

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck

1 tablespoon Big House Red wine

12 3-inch dinner rolls

2 yellow onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch watercress

1 bunch radicchio

Caramelized onions (saute sliced onions in olive oil slowly to caramelize)


In a medium bowl, combine onion powder, paprika, garlic, pepper, salt, wine and beef. Shape into 12 small 3-inch round, 1/2-inch thick mini-patties. Grill until browned, three to four minutes per side. Heat or grill dinner rolls tops until slightly toasted; put the bottom bun on top of the grilling onions to absorb the flavorful steam. On bottom of each roll, place the grilled patty first, followed by the grilled onions, watercress and radicchio. Cap with the dinner roll top.

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