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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sommer's Italian Burgers

Sommer posted this on A Spicy Perspective last week and I immediately took something off the menu and put this on.  It sounded that good.  And, it was.  It's also a very quick meal.  We got home from the office about 8:15 and even with feeding the furry people and messing around with the new/old computer in the kitchen we were eating my a couple of minutes before 9:00.  I made a few tweaks and wished I'd made another, but that's pretty typical of my following - or not - a recipe. 

Actually, that's a good debate.  Should you follow a recipe exactly the first time through - out of respect for the writer or just because you should?  Or, should you follow your instincts and tweak?  I almost always come down on the tweak side for two reasons.  One, there are so many recipes out there that I'll in all likelihood never get back to one unless it's spectacular (spinach/blueberry/almond salad, chicken elegante.)  And, two, a different ingredient may well suit our tastes better OR more often, be in my pantry or refrigerator. 

So it was here.  I didn't have arugula but did have spinach.  We happen to much prefer spinach to arugula.  So, I substituted.  I also added to the actual burgers.  The tweak I wish I'd made was to switch out the mozzarella for provolone.  I didn't have smoked mozzarella and didn't see any at the grocery.  So, I used regular fresh mozzarella.  Bad move on my part.  I was matching the texture and not the flavor.  The grocery was also out of ciabatta buns so I bought ciabatta bread and sliced it to make "buns."  That worked out perfectly.  Next time we'll probably mince some salami and add it to the ground beef to see if that brings out the Italian a bit more.  And, I might use a little Italian dressing in the burgers. See, what I mean?  Lots of potential tweaks - even with a spectacular recipe like this.  That's part of the fun of cooking.  Figuring out what you like and what goes together.  So, try this and see what you think.  Here's my take - Sommer should enter this in a burger cookoff.  It's that good!!!

Sommer's Little Italy Burger

for the burgers:
1 pound ground beef
1 t tomato paste
1 T Andria's steak sauce (or other steak sauce)
2 t dried shallots
4 slices pancetta

for grilling the burgers:
1 red onion, sliced in thin rings
smoked mozzarella or provolone, sliced

for the tomato paste:
3 T butter
2 t tomato paste
1 t anchovy paste

for assembling the burgers:
ciabatta buns
1/2 c basil pesto
sliced tomato
fresh spinach or arugula

NB: the wine in the photo is indeed an ingredient - for the cook :-)


Oil your grill grates.  Heat your grill.

Mix the ground beef, shallots, tomato paste and steak sauce. 

Form into four patties.  (Yeah, I know there are only three there.  They were too thick so I'd do four next time.)

Top each with a slice of the pancetta and firmly press the pancetta into the patty.

Soften the butter and cream in the tomato paste and anchovy paste.  Spread the tomato butter on the cut sides of the ciabatta rolls. 

Now it's time to schlep things out to the grill.  You'll need the burgers, onion, cheese and ciabatta rolls. 

Grill the burgers with the non-pancetta side down first.  Put the onions on the grill at the same time.  You'll want to flip the onions when the first side of the burger is about halfway done.  Flip the burgers, top with the onions then the cheese. 

You want the cheese to be able to melt here. 

Put the buns on the grill, cut side down.  They'll only take a few minutes to get lovely grill marks.  One the buns are warmed through and have grill marks, remove them from the grill. 

When the burgers are done, you get to assemble the sandwich.  It's pretty much a Dagwood so count on needing lots of napkins :-)  Here's how you do it:  Slather the cut sides of the buns with pesto. 

Put a burger on a half bun, top with a slice of tomato then the spinach or arugula.

Then the other half of the bun. 

Adapted from A Spicy Perspective.  If you're not already a follower of Sommer's please head over to her blog and check it out.  Everything we've tried has been fantastic. She's obviously a wonderful cook!!!


Anonymous said...

Super yum! Look at how high that burger is stacked!

Becky said...

Your burgers look amazing! My husband and I have the discussion about tweak or not not tweak the first time. He always follows the recipe EXACTLY the first time, and I don't. I will tweak, if I don't have exactly the same ingredients, or don't like one ingredient over another. It drives him crazy.

~Lisa~ said...

This sounds and looks delicious. Tweaking is definitely a part of cooking so I know what you mean. This recipe is a winner.

BakingWithoutABox said...

Oh this looks great. My Sicilian hubs will love this!

City Share said...

Yum. Those burgers look great. I have learned to tweak. My husband is great at using recipes as inspiration, and I am getting better.

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

My husband LOVES burgers and this is on my list to make. Enjoy your Labor Day Holiday!!

Anonymous said...

Those burgers look delicious! Perfect for a Labor Day cookout :) I always end up tweaking recipes slightly...unless it's something I've never made before (like not just a peach pie, but a pie) and then I'm much closer at sticking to the instructions.

The Mom Chef said...

Wow, that looks fantastic. Were you able to eat the whole thing??

Anonymous said...

That burger looks fantastic! YUM!

Kate said...

Thank you all for your comments about tweaking. I've always wondered how everyone else felt about it!! Yes, Christiane, I did eat the whole thing BUT it's the only thing I had for dinner :-). And, I confess, I'd have another one tonight if I had the ingredients.