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Porcini-Crusted Burgers with Herb-Rubbed Pancetta and Radicchio Slaw

My favorite burger has bacon, mushrooms, onions and cheese on it, and something crisp and crunchy under it that holds up to the heat of the burger patty. One of my favorite types of food is from Italy and the Mediterranean region – I even married an Italian! I love how those cuisines use fresh local ingredients and herbs to elevate even a simple meal to something truly special. This burger is my translation of indigenous Italian and Mediterranean ingredients interpreted to make my favorite kind of burger.

Ingredients 

Herb-Rubbed Pancetta:
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
12 – 3/16 inch slices pancetta

Radicchio Slaw:
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Grey Poupon® Country Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 pound thinly sliced fresh radicchio
1/4 pound thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb (no stalks or fronds)
1/2 cup thinly sliced and roughly chopped fresh red onion (2 ounces)

Patties:
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 ounce ground dried porcini mushrooms

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 – 1 ounce slices Italian Provolone cheese
6 fresh Kaiser rolls, with a slightly chewy bite to the crust

Instructions 

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

To make the Herb-Rubbed Pancetta: Mix together thyme, fennel, oregano, red pepper and black pepper in a small bowl. Add wine to another small bowl. Dip pancetta slices into wine, rub the herb mixture into both sides of the meat and set aside.

To make the Radicchio Slaw: Whisk together walnut oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, lemon zest, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in Radicchio, fennel and red onion, cover and refrigerate until serving.

To make the patties: Spread the chuck out in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle evenly with wine, sage, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. 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. Add the porcini mushrooms to a medium bowl and evenly press ground mushroom mixture into both sides of each patty.

When the grill is ready, place pancetta slices on the grill rack and cook until the meat is lightly browned and the edges are slightly crisped and browned, turning once, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Remove pancetta from grill and keep warm.

To cook the patties: Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the patties and cook until done to preference, 3 to 4 minutes longer for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking place cheese on the patties and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers: On each roll bottom, place an equal portion of the slaw, followed by a cheese-topped patty and two slices of pancetta. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

Comments 

I use a small electric grinder to grind the fennel seeds and the porcini mushrooms. With all the herbs and vegetables minced, chopped or sliced before compiling them for each recipe component, this recipe comes together relatively quickly.