PUBLISHED: 9:48 AM on Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers

Total preparation and cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

3 Tbsp. soft Italian bread crumbs

3 Tbsp. minced red onion

3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil, lightly packed

3 Tbsp. Sutter Home Zinfandel, or other dry red wine

6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1-1/2 tsp. garlic salt

8 large sprigs fresh basil

4 large poppy seed or sesame seed sandwich rolls, split

4 slices Monterey Jack cheese (about 3/4 oz. each)

4 leaves red leaf lettuce

4 large slices tomato (about 1/4" thick)

4 very thin red onion slices, separated into rings

4 small sprigs fresh basil

Pesto Mayonnaise:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. prepared basil pesto sauce

Combine pesto mayonnaise ingredients in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, chopped basil, wine, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic salt in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four 3/4-inch thick patties. Moisten 8 large basil sprigs with water; toss sprigs directly onto medium, ash-covered coals just before grilling patties. Place patties on grid directly over basil sprigs. Grill, uncovered, 13 to 15 minutes to medium (160?F) doneness, until not pink in center and juices show no pink color, turning occasionally. About 2 minutes before burgers are done, place rolls, cut sides down, around outer edge of grid. Grill until lightly toasted. During the last minute of grilling, top each burger with cheese slice. Spread pesto mayonnaise evenly over cut sides of rolls. Line bottom of each roll with lettuce leaf; top with burger, tomato slice, onion rings and basil sprig. Close sandwiches.

Makes 4 servings

Cook's Tip: To make soft bread crumbs, place torn bread in food processor or blender container. Cover; pulse on and off to form fine crumbs. Regular white bread can be substituted.