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Italian Tomato-Feta Tossed Burger

This is a great burger if you are looking for something juicy and great tasting. It has been developed over years of entering the Build-A-Better-Burger contest. The two things that make the burger juicy and tasty are the mayonnaise in the burger and the tomato mixture used in the burger. The tomato mixture is actually used in several other recipes of mine, so it is what I consider a “base” recipe. Usually when making this burger I will also be serving an appetizer that uses the same base recipe. I hope that in my writing you can actually taste how wonderful this burger is when you have the chance to eat it. My wife and I usually serve this with a Sutter Home Pino Noir as it is a great compliment to the burger. So lets get started.

Ingredients 

1.) 2 tomatoes
2.) 4 oz feta cheese
3.) 2 cloves garlic
4.) 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
5.) 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon sea salt
6.) 1 ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
7.) 1 cup olive oil
8.) 1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced for 12 slices
9.) 1 1/4 pound ground beef, 80% lean
10.) 1/4 pound pancetta bacon, thick sliced then chopped
11.) 2 medium eggs
12.) 1/4 cup plus 3 teaspoons, mayonnaise
13.) 6 oz Fontina Cheese, cut into slices to place on six burgers
14.) 3/4 cup Arugula Lettuce
15.) 1 small red onion, sliced for rings
16.) 3 teaspoons Grey Poupon Mustard

Instructions 

If you are using a charcoal grill I would suggest that you get the charcoal going now so that the grill will be about 350 degrees F. when the burger patties are readyto cook. If you are using a gas grill you can wait until later in the recipe. (I will point out the right time.) First we will put together the tomato mixture. Take one of the tomatoes and dice it. Place it in a bowl. Crumble the feta cheese over the top of the diced tomatoes. Take one of the cloves of garlic, crush it with the side of a French Knife then finely chop it and add it to the tomato mixture. Add the chopped basil. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper and 1 cup of the olive oil. Lightly toss this mixture and set aside for about 30 minutes. We really want the flavors in this mixture to combine so that the flovor will explode in the burger. This is about the time I would suggest you start your gas grill so that it has a chance to heat up to 350 degrees F before you put the burgers on to cook them. Slice the sourdough bread into 12 slices. (2 for each burger.) These slices should be about ½ inch thick. Spread the slices out on a counter so that they will dry out a little while you are preparing the rest of the burger. Take the two ends of the sourdough bread and pulse in a food prosessor for a few seconds to make breadcrumbs for the burger patties. Slice the second tomato so that you have six slices, one for each burger when we assemble them. Next we want to mix the burger ingredients. Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the chopped pancetta bacon, the two raw eggs, 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise, 3/4 tablespoon of sea salt and 3/4 tablespoon of fresh ground pepper. Crush and chop the second clove of garlic and add it to the ground beef mixture. Now add 1 cup of the tomato-feta cheese mixture. (Set aside the remaining tomato-feta mixture to use later in the recipe.) Add 1/4 cup of the fresh breadcrumbs that you chopped in the food processor. Combine the ground beef mixture thoroughly. I use my hands to do this so that I can make sure it is completely combined. Please understand that this mixture will be very wet. Do not panic because this is part of the reason the burger is so juicy and delicious. Form the mixture into 6 patties about 1 inch thick. I usually do this on separate pieces of aluminum foil squares just a little bigger than the burger patties so it is easier to transfer to the grill. I also use the aluminum foil to start grilling the burgers. Take the sourdough slices and spread some of the olive oil from the tomato-feta mixture on both sides using a pastry brush. I suggest that you put the slices sourdough on the grill first. Grill both sides so that they are lightly browned and they get the “grill” marks on both sides of the bread slices. Remove the sourdough bread from the grill when they have been slightly browned on both sides. Set the sourdough slices to the side. Now it is time to grill the burger. Make sure the grill is at our about 350 degrees F. I like to take the burgers while they are on the aluminum foil and place the foil on the grill and leave the burger on the aluminum foil for the first few minutes of grilling. Sprinkle with about half of the remaining sea salt. Close the lid on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Leaving the aluminum foil under the patty will allow the patty to form into a tighter patty before flipping. Flip the burgers over carefully and then remove the aluminum foil. Sprinkle with the remaining sea salt. Close the lid and cook for about 2-3 more minutes. Flip the burgers again and top with the fontina cheese. Close the lid on the grill and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove the burgers from the grill. Assemble the burger by spreading about ½ teaspoon of mayonnaise on each of six of the slices of grilled sourdough bread. Place the burger on top of the grilled bread. Place on top of the burger, about 1/8 cup of arugula lettuce, 1 slice of tomato, several rings of red onion and about 1 teaspoon of the tomato-feta mixture. Put 1/2 teaspoon of Grey Poupon mustard on each of six of the slices of grilled sourdough bread. Place this second slice of sourdough bread on top of the burger. Cut the burger in half. Since this is a big, tasty and juicy burger you will want to serve it with extra napkins and maybe some melon as well. We usually serve it with a bottle of red wine … my wife and I prefer to serve this with a Sutter Home Pinot Noir.

Comments 

Thank you again for running this contest. I have to say that this is my families favorite time of the year. I think this year I made this burger at least 15 times. The difference this year was that other families were actually asking me to come to their house and make it for their family because my family was talking about it so much. See you in California! Thank you, Mark