RECIPES: Recipe Details

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This recipe comprises some of the flavors I love best about Italian cooking. The use of fresh herbs and hearty vegetables make for a great tasting burger. The colors themselves, from the green of the pesto, the red in the ragu, and to the white of the cheese, are reminiscent of the Italian flag. This burger will take all of your senses on an Italian vacation.

Ingredients 

Patties: 2 lbs ground beef chuck
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup grated onion
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
Asparagus Pesto: 30 small asparagus spears, stalks trimmed to remove tough ends
1/2 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Ragu: 1/3 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil
3 cups crimini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
3 cups leeks, green tops removed, cut lengthwise in half, chopped crosswise, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup Sutter Home chardonnay
2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing the grill rack
8 ounces sharp provolone cheese, thinly sliced
6 seedless hamburger buns, split

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high heat.

To make the patties, combine the chuck, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion, parsley and oregano in a large bowl. Ensure the ingredients are well distributed throughout the meat, but don’t overwork the mixture. Divide the meat into 6 portions, shape each portion into a patty, and place on a platter. Loosely cover patties with plastic wrap and set aside.

In a shallow baking dish, prepare asparagus for roasting by lightly drizzling it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly to coat, place asparagus spears in grill basket and set on the grill for 10-12 minutes. Gently shake grill basket a couple of times during the grilling process to ensure even roasting. Remove asparagus from the grill, and transfer it to a food processor. Combine the roasted asparagus and parmesan in the food processor and puree. While the motor is running, drizzle in the remainder of the olive oil until mixture is thick and creamy. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

To prepare the ragu, pre-heat a large, non-stick, fire-proof skillet over medium high heat. When skillet is hot, add the olive oil and spread the mushrooms evenly in the pan. Without stirring, allow the mushrooms to caramelize for 6-7 minutes. Add the leeks, salt and pepper. Stir and let cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add rosemary and cook for another minute to release the fragrance. Add the tomato paste and remove the skillet from the heat to add the wine. Return skillet to the heat, stir well to dissolve the tomato paste, and combine the flavors. When the wine has evaporated, transfer the ragu mixture to a medium size bowl and set aside until ready to use.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and grill for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium, or until desired doneness. During the last 3 minutes of grilling, place a slice of provolone cheese on each patty and close the lid so cheese will melt. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, toast the buns by placing the cut side down on the outer edges of the grill rack.

To assemble the burgers, spread the bottom side of the bun with the asparagus pesto. Place the cheese topped patty on top of the pesto, followed by the ragu mixture. Add the bun tops and serve. (Makes 6 burgers)

Comments 

To save time, the pesto and the ragu can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Just reheat both mixtures before assembling the burgers.