Little Italy’s Moo Moo Panini

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.


Roasted garlic
2 large heads of garlic
Foil (2 sheets @ 12 inches long each, third sheet to line your baking dish/pan)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/8 Tsp salt

Balsamic reduction
1 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 Cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/4 Tsp salt
up to 1 Tsp water (optional)

Roasted garlic paste
1 head roasted garlic cloves (from above, skins removed)
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 Tsp sea salt

Sun dried tomato/basil/garlic tapenade
1/2 Cup packed minced sun dried tomatoes (that were jarred in oil)
1 head roasted garlic cloves (from above, skins removed)
1 Tsp sea salt
3/4 Cup loosely packed (stemmed and minced) fresh basil leaves

2 1/2 Lb ground chuck
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp freshly cracked black pepper
6 squares of wax paper (each measuring 5 inches x 7 inches)
Foil (piece large enough to cover a plate holding your cooked burgers)

vegetable or canola oil (for brushing grill grate)

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (for brushing the bread)
12 slices from Tuscan bread loaf (1/2 inch thick slices) [loaf approximately 6 1/2 – 7 inches wide x 3 1/2 – 4 inches tall]

Burger toppings
whole milk fresh mozzarella cheese (1/4 inch thick slices ~ about 1 Lb)
fresh basil leaves (stemmed) ~ roughly 1 1/2-2 Cups loosely packed
1/2 large Vidalia onion (sliced into 1/4 inch slices)
roasted red peppers (24 oz jar)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling during assembly)
sea salt (1 pinch per burger applied during assembly)




– Preheat grill to medium high heat

Roast the garlic
– Take one head of garlic, cut off the top 1/3rd and place both top and bottom sections on a piece of foil. Drizzle 1 Tbs oil and sprinkle 1/16th Tsp salt on top. Place the cut top back on the head and wrap with the foil. Repeat with other head. Line a metal pan or Pyrex dish with the last piece of foil. Put both heads in the pan/dish, place it on the grill, close the grill cover and roast for 45 minutes or until the cloves are soft and golden/light brown in color.

Balsamic reduction
– Place balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt in medium sauce pan on top of the grill grate. Once it reaches almost to the boil, it should simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes more in order to reduce to a thick syrup. Stir occasionally while it reduces. Allow to cool completely. If you find that the sauce thickens too much once cooled, just add water 1/4 Tsp at a time and reheat a little on the grill until it becomes more fluid.

Roasted garlic paste
– Mix garlic cloves, butter and salt into a paste until well incorporated. This can be done either in a food processor or manually in a bowl using a whisk. You might want to smash the garlic cloves on a cutting board prior to adding them to the bowl for the garlic to incorporate easier.

Sun dried tomato/basil/garlic tapenade
– Blend sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, salt, and basil into a paste until well incorporated, either with a food processor or manually in a bowl using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. You might want to smash the sun dried tomatoes and garlic together on a cutting board prior to adding them to the bowl so they incorporate easier.

– On a clean flat surface, break the hamburger up into a single layer and sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly on top. Divide into 6 equal portions. Shape into 3/4 inch thick oval patties (matching shape of bread slices) on the wax paper sheets, handling carefully to avoid compacting the meat. With your thumb, press a 2 inch diameter round circle in the middle of each patty, reducing the thickness there to 1/2 inch (prevents burger from becoming a round hockey puck when cooked).

– Brush grill grate with oil and grill burgers 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked between medium rare and medium (they’ll cook a bit more while resting on the plate). Remove burgers from grill, place on a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Grill the bread
– For each set of bread slices used per burger, brush extra virgin olive oil lightly (up to 1 Tsp worth) on the outside of each slice…and slather 3/4 Tbs of the roasted garlic paste on the inside of each slice
– Place bread on grill butter side down and on the diagonal. Grill for 30 seconds with the cover closed.
– Flip over and with extra virgin olive oil side down on the diagonal, cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes more (grill cover closed) or until nice grill marks appear (gives bread exterior the characteristic lines from a panini maker)

Assembly instructions
– Slather 1 1/2 Tbs tapenade on the butter side of a piece of bread
– Add burger patty
– Add enough slices of cheese to cover burger
– Drizzle 1 1/2 Tsp balsamic reduction
– Add a layer of basil leaves
– Add about 3-4 onion rings, broken up to cover evenly
– Add a layer of roasted red peppers
– Lightly drizzle 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil over peppers
– Add small pinch of sea salt
– Place top slice of bread butter side down

Makes 6 burgers.