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Burgers Amore: Italian Pepperoni Burgers Topped with Provolone Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Basil

The classic flavors of Italy are brought together in this simple, but unique, burger recipe. Pepperoni, red wine, and Italian cheeses and herbs offer up the tastes of the Italian countryside as well as the comfortable and familiar flavors of the food many of us grew up with and still love.


Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
¼ cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
2 tablespoons imported Italian tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 8-ounce stick pepperoni, sliced into half-inch pieces
1½ pounds ground beef chuck, 80% lean
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 slices sharp provolone cheese
6 Ciabatta rolls, split
12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To roast the red peppers, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil when the grill is ready. Place the red pepper quarters, skin side down, on the grill over direct heat. Using tongs, rotate the peppers every few minutes until the entire skin is blackened about 10 minutes. Once the skin is charred, seal the red pepper in a paper bag and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove the charred skin and slice each piece into lengthwise strips; set aside. To make the patties, in a small bowl mix together thoroughly the Zinfandel, tomato paste, oregano, and rosemary to make a sauce; set aside. Place the pepperoni in a food processor and process until coarsely ground, about 1 minute. Transfer the ground pepperoni to a large bowl and add the ground beef, shallots, garlic, parsley, salt, egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the tomato paste-wine mixture. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls; set aside. When the grill is ready, place the patties on the grill rack, and grill until browned on the bottoms, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over the patties and continue grilling. Place the rolls on the grill, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Three minutes after flipping the patties, place the slices of provolone cheese on the patties; close the grill lid and continue cooking two more minutes for medium. For best results, cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the patties registers 160 degrees. To assemble the burgers, place a patty on the bottom half of each toasted roll, place several strips of roasted red pepper and several strips of the basil on top of the patties. Cover with the roll tops and serve immediately. Makes 6 burgers