Italian Brown Butter Pork Burger

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.

One of my favorite dishes at upscale Italian restaurants is sweet potato or pumpkin gnocchi with sage and brown butter that is sprinkled with crushed amaretti cookies.Since I hadn’t seen many of these elements in a burger before, I thought it would be fun to bring them together. And it really works to make a great-tasting and unique Italian burger!


Pecorino Brown Butter:
1/2 cup good-quality unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Fried Sage, Sweet Potato, & Prosciutto:
Olive oil (not virgin olive oil), for frying
1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups julienned orange sweet potatoes (peeled), cut into 1/8-inch by 3-inch strips (on a mandoline)
6 large fresh sage leaves

3/4 cup chopped amaretti cookies
1/3 pound soppressata, thinly sliced and chopped
1 2/3 pounds ground pork
1/4 cup finely minced onion
3 tablespoons Sutter Home White Merlot
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 good-quality potato hamburger buns
8 ounces burrata cheese (or mozzarella)


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

To make Pecorino Brown Butter, in a large fireproof skillet over medium heat, add butter and sage sprig. Stirring frequently, cook until the butter becomes a deep brown color. Transfer butter to a small mixing bowl (discard sage) and place in a refrigerator (or freezer) until it has cooled to room temperature and just started to solidify (20-30 minutes). Stir in pecorino, lemon juice, and nutmeg; mix until well combined.

To make Fried Sage, Sweet Potato, & Prosciutto, heat a large, fireproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add speck and cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain. Add enough oil to skillet to reach a depth of 3/4 of an inch. Thoroughly dry sweet potatoes on paper towels. When oil is hot (about 350 degrees F), add 1/3 the sweet potatoes to the skillet and fry, stirring frequently, until lightly browned (not dark brown), about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer sweet potatoes to paper towels to drain. Blot the excess oil off with more paper towels. Repeat, in two more batches, with remaining sweet potatoes (adding more oil, if needed). Add sage leaves and cook for 15-20 seconds (be careful of splatter). Transfer to paper towels. When cool, finely chop sage leaves. Sprinkle sage and prosciutto on top of sweet potatoes.

To make the patties, place amaretti cookies in food processor; process until finely chopped. Remove half the crumbs and reserve for later use. Add soppressata to food processor; process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add pork, onion, wine, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly and top burgers with equal amounts of cheese.

To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the Pecorino Brown Butter on the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, sprinkle the reserved amaretti cookie crumbs, top with a patty and a generous amount of Fried Sage, Sweet Potato, & Prosciutto. Add bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 servings.