The Pinotage Burger (with cranberry sauce, brie en braai-spiced fried onions)

The Pinotage Burger, from bottom to top: buttered toasted bun, mayo, lettuce, pickles, 200g beef patty, melted brie, cranberry Pinotage sauce, crispy braai-spiced fried onions, and the top layer of buttered toasted bun. Heaven!

National Pinotage Day is around the corner (12 October) and I’ve teamed up with Middelvlei Wine Estate to bring you the definitive Pinotage Burger to pair with this proudly South African cultivar. Pinotage pairs very well with meat, especially spiced meat like boerewors, lamb, game and even mild curries. In addition, it also pairs well with an added sweeter taste profile like chutney or cranberry jam, so the combination of sweet and salty and spice works like a dream.

When I make burgers at home, I go all out. The sesame bun needs to be buttered and toasted on the inside, the patty needs to be the right size for the bun, the meat should be crusty on the outside and still juicy in the middle and you need all the toppings – mayo, lettuce, pickles (for some sweet-and-sour crunch), some type of cheese (melted, of course) and a decent amount of sauce or relish to avoid any kind of dryness. I’ve chosen my favourite 200 g beef steak patty, pan fried in olive oil to go with slices of melted brie, a 2-ingredient easy cranberry sauce made with Pinotage and some super crunchy, salty, deep fried onion rings spiced with store-bought braai spice! The result is an intensely satisfying burger – rich in flavour and texture, perfectly paired with one of the best Pinotages out there: Middelvlei’s superb Momberg Pinotage 2018. Pinotage was the first wine bottled under the Middelvlei label. It is therefore very fitting that this commemorative, limited edition wine was made from Pinotage in tribute to the 100 years that the estate has been part of the Momberg family.

I urge you to try this recipe – you’ll be richly rewarded!

The cranberry sauce is so easy to make with only 2 ingredients, and it really brings the Pinotage element home.

For the crispy onions: (serves 4)

2 onions, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 cups milk, for soaking
1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoons of your favourite braai spice mix
canola oil, for frying

For the cranberry sauce:

100 g dried cranberries
125 ml Pinotage

For the burgers:

4 hamburger buns with sesame, sliced open and buttered
olive oil, for frying
4 x 200 g beef burger patties
a few tablespoons mayonnaise
a few fresh lettuce leaves
some sliced cucumber/gherkin pickles
125 g brie, sliced


Make the onions: Place the onions and the milk in a mixing bowl and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes (in the meantime, get on with the cranberry sauce below). Place the flour and braai spice in a bowl and mix well. Heat the oil (about 3-4 cm deep) in a pot over medium heat – test a strand of onion to see if it sizzles. Now take the onions out of the milk and drop batches of it directly into the spiced flour, coating it all over, then into the oil. Fry in batched until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper and set aside until ready to serve with the burgers.

Make the sauce: Place the cranberries and wine in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and process to a smooth pulp, adding more wine if you prefer a looser result. Set aside.

Assemble the burgers: Toast the buns in a hot pan on the buttered sides, then place on serving plates. Spread the bottoms of the buns with mayonnaise and top with lettuce and pickles. Fry the patties in the olive oil until brown but still juicy, placing the sliced brie on top of each patty for the last minute and covering the pan so that the cheese can melt. Place the cheese-covered patties on top of each prepared burger bun bottom, then top with the cranberry sauce and fried onions. Serve at once.

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