Gourmet Burgers (Italian Style)

I like my burgers huge and juicy, not paper thin and lifeless. I usually do my take on a "steakhouse burger" (with A1 sauce mixed into the meat) but this past weekend I decided to do something a little different. I call this an Italian style burger because of the spices, the sausage, the cheese, and the pesto.

Burger Ingredients (for four patties)
1 lb of 90/10 ground beef
0.5 lbs of sweet Italian sausage - I prefer to buy the kind without casing since I'd just cut it off anyway
1/2 cup roughly diced sweet onion - vidalia would be really sweet and delicious
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper - freshly ground, please!
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced into 4 pieces
1 package of potato hamburger buns (my family likes Martin's) - rip up one bun into little pieces (similar to the size of the onion) to be used in the burger meat mixture

Don't worry about chopping the onion uniformly or too precisely. I like seeing the chunks of onion and bread throughout my patty because it's delicious and gives it that homemade feel.

So start by mixing up all of the ingredients, minus the fresh mozzarella, until just combined. Over-mixing will result in a tough, chewy burger.

Now for the fun part! Divide your meat mixture into four equal portions. Take one portion and flatten the meat into a thin pancake. Then place a slice of the mozzarella in the middle. Start forming the edges of the meat up the sides until the cheese is completely wrapped up with the meat.
Your finished patties should look like this:
Sear the burgers in a frying pan (in a little olive oil or butter for color) and then finish them off in the oven. Since there's sausage in the meat, you'll have to cook the burgers a little longer than if they were just beef. The FDA recommends that pork be cooked to 145 degrees so I like to cook the patties to 135 and then pull them from the oven to let them rest (get the juices redistributed). The carryover cooking time will ensure that the meat is cooked properly.
still missing something...
Pesto Ingredients (I usually just make pesto really casually so I'm estimating quantities. Just taste as you go)
a handful of basil
a few chunks of parmesan cheese (maybe 3 tablespoons already grated)
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse and blend until it comes together. Add more oil if necessary and adjust the amount of salt, pepper, and cheese to taste. And be creative. For this pesto, we tossed in a few sun dried tomatoes.

bad photo, great pesto
Spread some on the bun underneath the burger and a little on top to give it that second element of Italian-ness.
ready to eat
Dig in! Admittedly, this burger is really messy but it's worth the clean up. It's juicy, flavorful, and has a really good surprise in the middle.
can you see the melted fresh mozz oozing out?
Bon appetit! :)


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