Molto Italiano! Burgers (Porcini-Rubbed Burgers with Grilled Porchetta, Herbed Portobellos, Fennel Slaw and Fontinella Cheese)

Pairs well with:


Get cozy and get pouring. Our Merlot is the wine for long weekends and lengthy chats.

If there’s anyone who doesn’t like Italian food, I’ve yet to meet them.Insistence on the highest quality ingredients, enthusiastically prepared with love, elevates Italian food to mouth-watering bliss. I was inspired to Italianize my favorite burger of bacon, mushrooms and cheese. Bacon’s replaced by porchetta, a Tuscan slow-roasted pork loin bound in belly fat and flavored with herbs. Mushrooms get a double flavor from the dried porcini rub and from grilled, herbed portobellos. I use fontinella cheese because of its creamy sharpness. Add some nutty, citrusy slaw and you have molto Italiano bites of juicy deliciousness!


Porcini Rub:

1/4 cup ground dried porcini mushrooms (1/2 ounce wt.)

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper

2 teaspoons naturally smoked kosher salt

Fennel Slaw:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons butternut squash seed oil (if unavailable, use walnut oil)

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers

1/4 cup minced fresh shallots

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced fresh fennel (about 1 large bulb, trimmed and cored)


1/4 cup diced grilled piquillo peppers

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 teaspoon naturally smoked kosher salt

2 1/2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck

Portobello Mushroom Sauce:

1/2 cup Sutter Home Merlot wine

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon naturally smoked kosher salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack

24 1/4-inch slices fresh portobello mushrooms (about 4 large, stems & gills removed)

6 – 1/4-inch thick slices porchetta

6 – 1 ounce slices fontinella cheese

6 bakery Vienna burger rolls, split (egg-wash-glazed, with a slightly crisped crust and a soft, tender interior)

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the rub, in a medium bowl, mix together porcini mushrooms, paprika, pepper and salt. Set aside.

To make the slaw, in a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, honey, capers, shallots and pepper. Add fennel and toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until assembling burgers.

To make the patties, in a small bowl, mix together roasted red peppers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper and salt. Spread the ground chuck out in a large shallow pan and, handling the meat as little as possible, evenly mix peppers mixture into meat. Shape into 6 equal patties sized to fit the rolls. Sprinkle both sides of each patty evenly with reserved rub, pressing rub lightly onto meat surface. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the portobello mushrooms, in a small bowl, whisk together wine, oil, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Using a small basting brush, brush the one side of the mushrooms with half of the herbed oil mixture and place on the grill rack, basted side down. Brush mushrooms with remaining herbed oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender. Remove from grill, wrap in foil and keep warm. Scrape the grill rack clean as necessary.

To cook the porchetta, place slices on grill rack and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until meat is lightly browned and edges are crispy. Remove from grill, wrap with foil and keep warm. Burn off the grill and scrape the grill rack as necessary.

To cook the patties, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until nicely charred and done to preference, about 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, top each patty with cheese and place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place equal portions of the slaw on each roll bottom. Add a cheese-topped patty, then a porchetta slice and then 4 mushroom slices side-by-side. Sprinkle mushrooms evenly with basil, add the roll tops and serve with napkins and a smile! Makes 6 burgers.