RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Vitello Tonnato Burger

Vitello Tonnato is a classic Milanese summer dish, consisting of chilled veal in a tuna sauce. My burger follows the same idea, adding a few more Italian standards to the mix.


2 pounds ground veal
2 eggs
1/2 cup black olives (preferably oil-cured), pitted and finely chopped
1 packed cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Tuna sauce:
1 packed cup canned white tuna in vegetable oil, drained
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grilled vegetables:
2 medium red peppers, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 slices of bacon
vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 (3\" by 4\") pieces Italian bread
6 teaspoons plum preserve (or any other berry preserve if not available)


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make the patties:
- Combine the ground veal, eggs, black olives, Parmesan, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well.
- Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size.
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
To make the tuna sauce:
- Finely chop the tuna, capers and anchovy fillets with a knife.
- Put the tuna, capers, and anchovy fillets in a medium-sized bowl, then mix with the sour cream, paprika and salt.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
To make the grilled vegetables:
- Put the sliced red peppers and onion in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt.
- Put the vegetables in a grill basket and grill, shaking the basket occasionally, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to a sheet of foil, and wrap to keep warm.
To make the burgers:
- Grill the bacon on each side until brown and crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil.
- Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning just once, until done to preference (3 to 5 minutes on each side for medium). Remove from the heat and let rest while assembling the burgers.
- Cut each piece of bread lengthwise, and remove some of the soft part inside.
- Cut the bacon slices to fit the length of the breads.
- Spread each bread top with the tuna sauce, then place the grilled vegetables and bacon on top.
- Spread each bread bottom with the plum preserve, and place a patty on top.
- Close the burgers, and serve.


- The salt content of the black olives and the Parmesan may vary; make sure you do not over salt the patties.
- The salt content of the capers and anchovies may vary; make sure you do not over salt the tuna sauce.
- If you have a food processor or a powerful blender, you can make the tuna sauce by blending all the ingredients.
- If you do not have a grill basket, simply cut the vegetables into large pieces, and slice them after grilling them.
- The bread should have a crisp crust and therefore it does not need to be toasted. If this is not the case, place each piece on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.