Crosstown Classic Burgers

Serves 6 Regular-Sized Burgers
Pairs well with:

White Merlot

Imagine sipping a lighter Merlot. This fresh, pale-pink wine is a nice change from traditional red or white wines.

Chicago is known, among other things, for its cross-town baseball rivalry and for its cross-town rivalry when it comes to who serves the best Italian beef sandwich.

The inspiration for my burger comes from the classic Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich which consists of thin slices of robustly seasoned, juicy roast beef topped with giardiniera, a crisp tangy melange of pickled carrots, celery, cauliflower, olives and packs a bit of a punch from the addition of serrano peppers. Depending on who you ask, a traditional Italian beef sandwich might also be topped with sweet or hot peppers and provolone or mozzarella cheese.

To make this burger, I seasoned the patties with the same robust flavors found in the Italian beef sandwich and topped the burgers with two kinds of cheese, a tangy giardiniera pesto with a spicy kick, crunchy peperoncini, vibrant roasted red pepper strips, and crisp lettuce leaves.


Giardiniera Pesto:

  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • ¾ Cup Chicago-style Italian sandwich mix hot giardiniera
  • ½ Cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped and packed
  • ¼ Cup fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped and packed
  • ⅓ Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/8 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Clove garlic, chopped


  • 2 Pounds 80% lean ground chuck
  • ¼ Cup beef broth
  • ⅓ Cup white onion, freshly grated
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
  • ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ Cup vegetable oil
  • 6 Slices deli provolone cheese
  • 6 Slices deli mozzarella cheese
  • 6 Brioche hamburger buns, split
  • 6 Green lettuce leaves, crisp
  • 1 Cup jarred, deli-sliced roasted red bell pepper strips, drained
  • 1 Cup jarred, deli-sliced peperoncini rings, drained


Giardiniera Pesto:

  1. Heat a gas grill to medium-high heat
  2. Place the pine nuts in a small fireproof skillet on the grill rack
  3. Roast the pine nuts, stirring often, until lightly toasted, 3 – 5 minutes
  4. Remove the pine nuts from the heat and transfer into the bowl of a food processor
  5. Add the giardiniera, basil, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, kosher salt and garlic
  6. Process until pureed and smooth, cover and set aside


  1. Gently combine the ground chuck, beef broth, grated onion, oregano, basil, garlic, kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  2. Divide into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns
  3. Brush the grill rack with the vegetable oil and place the patties on the grill rack
  4. Cook, only turning once, 3 – 4 minutes per side for medium rare
  5. During the last 2 minutes of cooking top each patty with 1 slice of provolone cheese and 1 slice of mozzarella cheese
  6. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to lightly toast
  7. Spread 1 tablespoon of the giardiniera pesto on the cut side of each bun half
  8. On each bun bottom, place one lettuce leaf, a patty, equal amounts of the roasted red bell pepper strips and equal amounts of the sliced peperoncini
  9. Add the bun tops and serve