Italian Surprise 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.


1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 15)
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 (3-oz.) pkg. pepperoni slices
6 (1-oz.) sticks mozzarella string cheese
vegetable oil for brushing the grill rack
6 (4 1/2-inch) Kaiser rolls, split
1 cup prepared pizza sauce
6 romaine lettuce leaves
6 (1/4-inch thick) large tomato slices



Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make patties, combine ground beef, crushed saltines, tomato paste, salt and oregano in a large bowl; mix well. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Cut Mozzarella sticks in half crosswise. Flatten each meat portion to make patties that fit the rolls. Top 6 patties with pepperoni slices and 2 Mozzarella stick halves on each. Cover with remaining patties; seal edges well. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. When the patties are cooked, remove from grill, stacking to keep warm. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly. To assemble burgers, spread pizza sauce over the bottoms of the rolls. Top with a burger, a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers