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Texas Sized Burger with Sicilian Olive Salad

The burger I’ve created represents the Sicilian heritage found in the Texas and Louisiana region of the United States. Like our nation’s unique blend of cultures, this burger combines both American and Sicilian culinary heritages.
Many Sicilians, including my ancestors, immigrated through New Orleans and settled in parts of Louisiana and Texas. They brought with them a love of the food from Italy as well as a desire to make this country their new home.
One such immigrant, Lupo Salvadore of New Orleans, created a delicacy that offered these new citizens a sandwich using the familiar foods of Italy such as salami, provolone cheese, olives and garlic. Known as the muffuleta, this sandwich is prepared on one large, round loaf of Italian bread. Like this sandwich, my burger is prepared with one large patty and bun, then served cut into wedge shaped pieces.
As a native Texan and descendant of Sicilian immigrants, I grew up appreciating the best of both American and Italian cultures. The importance of continuing traditions, especially food traditions, has always remained paramount for my family and me.
This burger is truly a great local American burger. By combining the all-American hamburger with a sandwich of Sicilian heritage, it represents a region of the United States that exemplifies the true melting pot nature of our nation.


Olive Salad
1 cup pitted green olives, drained
1/2 cup pitted calamata olives, drained
1 cup Giardiniera (pickled cauliflower, carrots, celery), drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup bottled roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
3 gloves of garlic, crushed and thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste

1/4 pound Genoa salami, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pound freshly ground chuck
2 heaping tablespoons grated onion
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Grilling basket, approximately 10" square
Vegetable oil, for brushing grilling basket
Round, 8-10" Italian loaf, sliced horizontally
Aluminum foil
8 slices Provolone cheese


To make the olive salad, crush each olive with your hand on a cutting board and add to medium bowl. Add the giardiniera, roasted red peppers, garlic, celery, parsley, oregano, black pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste. Stir and set aside to marinate.

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

To make patty, pulse salami in food processor until chopped. In large bowl combine chopped salami, ground beef, grated onion, cream, salt and ground pepper.

Mix ingredients well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting.
Form one large patty, approximately 10", on dinner plate, making sure formed patty will fit into available grilling basket. Rub vegetable oil on grilling basket using a paper towel. Slide patty to the inside of oiled grilling basket using a large spatula. Close basket.

From the top and bottom halves of Italian loaf, pull out some of the insides with your hands. Leave shells about 1" thick to make room for olive salad topping. Place halves together and wrap loaf in aluminum foil.

When the grill is ready, place grilling basket, with patty, on grill rack. Place bread loaf, in foil, on grill to heat. Cook burger turning once, until done, about 4-5 minutes per side for medium.

When burger is done, open grilling basket and transfer patty to clean plate using a large spatula. Place provolone slices on top of patty.
Remove loaf from grill, unwrap from aluminum foil and place loaf bottom on cutting board.

To assemble burger, spread approximately 3/4 cup of olive salad on loaf bottom. Using a spatula, slide patty, with cheese slices, on top of olive salad. Place 1 1/2-2 cups of olive salad on top of patty and add loaf top. Cut into six pieces and serve.


Preparing a hamburger this size can be challenging. However, I have discovered a couple of techniques that help.
The late chef James Beard incorporated heavy cream in his hamburger recipe. I added this ingredient to my patty as it helps to bind the meat and prevent the burger from breaking apart.
I have also found that by using a grilling basket, the burger is simple to turn.