RECIPES: Recipe Details

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All-Italian Bacon Cheeseburger with Parsley Tomato Salsa and Spicy Basil Mayonnaise

Nothing says New York City like the adapted cuisine of Italy. Only in this melting-pot can you get the fine tastes of the "old country" combined with the American ideal of "bigger is better". There is no better way to illustrate this than with an old-fashioned American classic married with the flavors inspired by my family’s Italian heritage. All the items you would find on an American style bacon cheeseburger have been substituted for their Italian counterparts. I’ve kept a classic New York bread style as a tribute to my family’s new home. Enjoy!

Ingredients 

Italian Parsley Tomato Salsa:
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes well drained
2 tspns balsamic vinegar
2 Tblspns Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For use in meat mixture (must be cooled):
1 Tblspn Olive Oil
1 ½ cups or 2 small finely diced yellow onions
Sprinkle of coarse salt
½ cup Zinfandel

Spicy Basil Mayonnaise:
1 whole egg
1 tspn Dijon Mustard
1 Tblspn White Wine Vinegar
½ tspn salt plus more to taste after mayonnaise has been prepared
¼ tspn white pepper
1 Tblspn Honey
½ tspn crushed red pepper flakes
2 loosely packed cups fresh sweet Italian basil leaves
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup Peanut Oil

1 lb ground sirloin
1lb ground chuck combined
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 Tblsns fresh Thyme leaves
2 tspns coarse salt

12 slices pancetta not too thin
2 Large Portobello mushrooms each cut into 6 equal slices
6 deli slices mozzarella cheese not too thin
6 sesame seed Kaiser rolls cut in half horizontally
1 bunch baby arugula

Instructions 

Preheat charcoal grill with cover to medium hot.

Make the tomato salsa by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well. Taste to adjust seasoning to preference and then chill for one hour. Remove to bring back to room temperature before serving.

In a fire-proof skillet on the grill heat 1 Tblspn olive oil and add the onions. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Sautee for about five minutes or until just soft. Add the red wine and simmer until reduced by three-quarters. Set aside in a bowl to cool.

Make the spicy basil mayonnaise by combining all the ingredients, except the oils, in the container of a food processor. Process until most of the basil is broken down. Slowly pour in the oils in a steady stream. When finished, process until mixture is thick and creamy. Taste and add coarse salt if needed. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.

In a large bowl, combine ground meats, sautéed & cooled onions, parmesan cheese, and thyme leaves. Mix with your hands gently to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Form 6 equal patties and set aside until ready to use.

Return fire-proof skillet to the grill and render the pancetta until crispy flipping frequently to avoid burning. Set aside. Place the Portobello slices in the same pan with the rendered fat from the pancetta. Fry the slices one minute on each side or until softened slightly. Set aside.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the rested patties on the grill and cook covered undisturbed about 5 minutes. At this point, lay each roll half down on the outer edges of grill just to warm and lightly toast. Flip the patties and add 2 slices pancetta, 2 slices Portobello mushroom, and 1 slice of mozzarella cheese to each patty. Cover and grill until cheese has melted. Remove to platter to rest.

On warmed rolls, divide and distribute tomato salsa equally to six roll bottoms and spread a generous layer of mayonnaise on each of the roll tops. Use the mayo to adhere a layer of baby arugula to the roll tops. Place 1 burger on each roll bottom over salsa. Cover with dressed tops. Cut in half to serve if preferred. Makes six burgers.

Comments 

The cook is always their own toughest critic and I am no exception. But if I do say so myself, this is not just a darn good burger but it gave my guests all the tastes of authentic Italian cuisine in one delicious sandwich. Even if I don't make the finals, I hope you folks give it a go just for fun.