Cooking from the Bar Cart: Beef Burgundy Burgers

A savory red wine reduction brings the rich, long-simmered flavors of bœuf bourguignon to juicy burgers that take just a fraction of the time

Photo: katherine cobbs/BLUELINE CREATIVE GROUP

My parents have been dueling cooks in the kitchen all my life. My mom turned to recipes from the culinary icons of her day, like Helen Corbitt, James Beard, Pierre Franey, and Julia Child, while my dad, a gardening enthusiast, sought exotic ones from far-flung places as opportunities to tinker with the many herb and chile pepper varieties he grew. One thing they shared was a love of wine. They learned all they could about it, traveled for it, and sipped it often. But since I was too young to drink the stuff, what I remember most was how they cooked with it. The aromas that wafted through our house—whether from cheese fondue bubbled with Champagne on Christmas Eve or Mom pouring a splash from her wine glass into a pan to deglaze it—hinted that something delicious was on the menu. 

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My favorite of these wine-spiked dishes was the beef burgundy served over fat egg noodles. Because it required hours of simmering, it was a weekend dish. Dad would snip thyme and mince garlic and shallots from his garden while Mom cubed and browned chuck roast in bacon fat. The real alchemy began when she poured in the wine. After a few hours of simmering, a tough cut of beef had transformed into something buttery-tender and full of flavor. The wine and pan juices had morphed into a sauce I wanted to drink with a straw. 

The affinity between red wine and beef is no surprise. And though you can certainly sip a glass while enjoying a burger (and I recommend it), you can elevate the humble hamburger patty by mixing in an umami-loaded red wine reduction infused with shallots, herbs, garlic, and a bit of tomato paste—the same ingredients in Julia Child’s classic recipe for beef bourguignon. As with any spirited recipe, choose a bottle of something you’d sip. Gamay or pinot noir are classic Burgundy varietals. Syrah, grenache, and blended dry reds with balanced tannins and fruit work beautifully too. Plus, they’re great to sip slightly chilled while you’re cooking burgers over a hot grill or stove.

For this recipe, the red wine reduction must be made at least an hour (or up to several days) in advance, so it has time to reduce until thick and jammy and to cool before it gets added to the ground meat. Cook the patties on an outdoor grill or in a dry, blasting hot cast-iron skillet for about 3 minutes per side for medium rare, then top them with cheese, if you’d like, while they rest lightly tented with foil for a few minutes. The usual burger toppings work well here, but in keeping with the beef burgundy inspiration, the wine-sautéed mushrooms included in this recipe are a must. I also like to top mine with shaved Gruyère cheese, grilled red onion, and tender leaf lettuce from my garden, which will never hold a candle to my dad’s.


  • Beef Burgundy Burgers (Yield: 4 servings)

  • For the red wine reduction (⅓ cup)

    • 1 tbsp. olive oil

    • 1 slice thick-cut bacon, cut into matchsticks

    • ½ cup minced shallots (2 to 3 large shallots)

    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic (about 3 garlic cloves)

    • 1 thyme sprig

    • ½ bay leaf

    • 2 tsp. tomato paste

    • 1 cup light dry red wine, such as pinot noir or gamay

  • For the mushrooms and burgers

    • 1 tbsp. olive oil

    • 1 tbsp. salted butter

    • 1 large shallot, minced

    • 1 lb. sliced cremini mushrooms

    • ¼ cup light dry red wine, such as pinot noir or gamay

    • 1 thyme sprig

    • 1½ lb. ground chuck (80/20 blend)

    • ⅓ cup red wine reduction

    • Kosher salt

    • Freshly ground black pepper

    • Toasted brioche buns or potato buns

    • Garnishes and condiments as desired


  1. Make the red wine reduction: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the bacon matchsticks and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Drain off the grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Finely chop the bacon and set aside.

  2. Return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 2 to 3 minutes until soft and translucent, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the thyme sprig and bay leaf piece. Stir in in the tomato paste to distribute and slowly stir in the wine. Bring to a boil, stirring, and reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook over moderate heat until the liquid has reduced almost completely and the shallots are jammy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaf, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, add the bacon, and let cool.

  3. Make the mushrooms and burgers: Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and foam subsides, add the shallot and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with the fat, then leave them undisturbed in a single layer to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt, add the thyme sprig and wine, and cook, stirring, until the wine has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

  4. Add the ground meat to the mixing bowl with the red wine reduction and combine the two gently. Form into 4 equal patties. Season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill or in a dry, blasting hot cast-iron skillet for about 3 minutes per side for medium rare (125°F) and 4 minutes per side for medium (135°F). Remove patties to a plate and top with cheese, if desired. Tent lightly with foil. Serve on buns topped with the mushrooms and your preferred garnishes and condiments.

Katherine Cobbs is a cookbook author and editor. Her most recent books are Pantry CocktailsTequila & Tacos, and Cookies & Cocktails, published by Simon & Schuster. She also developed recipes for Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook – Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories.