Monday, September 15, 2008

Basil Burgers with Mozzarella Cheese and Olive Salad

We spent one night in New Orleans during our 2 week road trip last summer. David had to get a jar of olive salad and a muffaleta at Central Grocery , go to Cafe Dumont for breakfast... you get the idea. So now I have a jar of insanely delicious olive salad in the fridge. I decided to try using it as a topping for burgers. This stuff is very salty, so if you are lucky enough to have some of Central Grocery's olive salad, you won't need much at all. If you don't, I would just use whatever you find at the grocery store or make your own. It's basically olives, celery, and a few other veggies marinated in oil, vinegar, and some spices.

For a long while, I was only making turkey burgers because I wanted to try and make a healthier alternative. Ground turky is pricey though, so I tried premade turkey burgers that seemed like a good deal. Well, they were pretty disappointing-- dry and tasteless. I then tried the extra lean ground beef. That was even worse, they tasted like cardboard. Ground chuck made a great juicy burger, but it also had the highest fat content. I finally tried a 50/50 mixture of ground chuck and ground round/sirloin. Ahh... now I had something we could all live with. A nice juicy burger, without sacrificing flavor. I know... it's still not very healthy, but fat means flavor, and you really have to use beef with some fat, or it's just not worth it. I haven't tried a mixture of turkey and beef, so if you do that, let me know how it goes. Personally, if you're going to have a burger, then have a real burger. I only make these 2-3 times per month, so it's all about everything in moderation.

I toasted the buns so they would hold up under the weight of the burgers, and yes, I put a little bit of butter on them. Please don't try and calculate the calories and fat in this recipe, or let me know what those numbers are should you figure it out. And the best contraption to make perfect 1/4 lb. patties is the lid of a large peanut butter jar. Yes, you heard me--and you probably have one already. If you keep reading, I'll show you how it's done.

Ready for a burger? Did you tell your man yet? "Honey, we're having REAL burgers for dinner..."

Basil Burgers with Mozzarella Cheese and Olive Salad


1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground round/sirlion
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, washed, dried, and finely chopped
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano/parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pizza sauce (had some in the fridge and figured...why not?)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 slices mozarella/provolone cheese
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced into 8 rounds
8 hamburger buns, split and toasted


1 cup prepared olive relish/salad, (homemade or store bought), chopped

To make the burgers, combine the ground chuck, ground round/sirloin, salt, pepper, basil, cheese, pizza sauce, and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Pat the mixture flat and divide it into 4ths, then in 8ths with your hand or a knife.

Now, here's how to get perfect patties that are all the same size. Take the lid from a large jar of peanut butter:

Line it with plastic wrap, scoop up 1/8th of the meat mixture and pat it into your lid. If you have a kitchen scale, each patty will weigh between 5 and 6 ounces. I suppose you could use the scale in your bathroom if you have to...

Use the plastic wrap to turn it back out.

Isn't that great? The last step is to use your thumb to make an intention in the center of the patty about 1 inch across and 1 inch deep. This will keep the burger from getting a bulge in the middle as it cooks. You'll have a nice, thick, flat burger after you cook it.

After the patties are cooked (and I let the grill master in our house take care of that-- thanks David!), this is what they look like. Hope you have a big mouth...

To assemble, put the bottom half of the bun down, top with the burger, cheese, tomato, and olive salad.

David was busy boarding up the house from Hurricane Ike, and grilling at the same time, so I just served the burgers with some fries from the freezer. I figured it would be the vegetable for the night (lol), since only Rebecca and Gabriel like tomatoes. These burgers were really good; I didn't even put mustard or ketchup on mine. David did--but he's a condiment freak, and he has to have ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce on everything. I've given up trying to tell him otherwise...

Have a real burger, and God bless your table tonight!

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