Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Italian Burger

This was my second attempt at making the Italian Burger and it was not as successful as the first when I pulsed a chuck roast in my Cuisinart. The meat was much more flavorful than the 96% fat free ground beef I used for these photos. I also used Italian Fontina cheese the first time instead of the Truffle cheese, and black truffle paste that had a more powerful flavor than the white truffle paste used this time. Still, I will be continuing to experiment with this idea of building a burger with an Italian accent in the future. I'm already thinking pesto mayonnaise and Gorgonzola Dolce for the cheese.I might sub prosciutto for the pancetta too.

1 1/3 lbs ground chuck
1 beefsteak tomato
1 large sweet onion
lollo rosso lettuce
Fontina (Italian), Truffle cheese, or Gorgonzola Dolce
1T black truffle paste or 1 small minced truffle
1/3C mayonnaise
1/3 lb pancetta sliced 1/16th inch thick
4 Italian rolls (I like the ones pictured here)
8 large sage leaves
1 4" sprig of rosemary


Before I do anything else I mix together the truffle and mayonnaise and set aside. Place the pancetta on a cookie sheet and cook in a preheated 375 degree oven, turning once. When the pancetta is cooking, you can start the meat. After the pancetta is crisp, take from the oven and set aside. Now turn off the oven, and place the sliced rolls inside.

Pulse in a Cuisinart or grind the chuck roast into a chunky texture, then mix in the minced herbs and form into 1/3 lb burger patties. Cook on a stove top grill pan over medium high heat. While the burgers are cooking slice the tomato and onions, then wash the lettuce. Set aside the tomato slices and lettuce. Flip the burgers and add thin slices of the cheese, lower the heat and get back to the onions.

Cut the onions thick enough that you can place a toothpick through one side to keep the onion from falling apart while you turn it during the cooking. Place the onions in a frying pan (nonstick is best) and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. Let them cook a few minuted over medium heat and flip. Pour on more balsamic and continue to cook. You may baste and flip several times before the onion is cooked through and thoroughly glazed. While the onion slices are cooking, take the rolls from the oven (your object is to heat them not toast them) and spread with the truffle mayonnaise, then add 2 leaves of lollo rosso lettuce. If you haven't worked fast enough your burgers are overcooked. Place the burgers on the bun.

Load the glazed onion onto the burger, then add the tomato and cooked pancetta. That's it, the Italian cousin of the American hamburger! The first time I made these burgers I also made an Italian inspired potato salad. I added a little red wine vinegar to the cooked diced potatoes, then added pesto to the mayonnaise, finely diced red onions, chopped parsley, and some blanched string beans. A traditional Ligurian pesto pasta always includes green beans and potato, so that was my inspiration. It was the perfect accompanyment for this burger.

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