Neapolitan Burgers with Smoked Mozzarella, Raisins and Pine Nut Tomato Spread
Because America is typified by the blending of so many cultures, it is no wonder that these different cuisines
influence the meals we experience. And because of the huge expanse of America and the immigration patterns of history
we see how these cultures have regionally influenced the foods of America.
My husband, children and I had the good fortune to live abroad in Italy for two years. During that time I came to
appreciate the cultural and flavor diversity of that country. When we returned we better recognized the influences of
southern Italy with rich tomato sauces and meats. My mother, sister and I regularly visit New York City. No matter
what else is on our “to do list”, we always make time for a stop in Little Italy for a bite to eat.
What makes this a great local American Burger is that it marries an all American classic, the hamburger, with the
rich flavors of a culture that has greatly influenced other American cooking. Together, it makes an All American
Burger that will be enjoyed by all!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped carrots
2 pounds ground chuck
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup pecorino-romano cheese finely grated
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons marsala wine
4 firm, ripe medium sized tomatoes (not overly ripe or they will fall apart when you grill them), cut in half around the middle
freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon marsala wine
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil divided
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
1/2 cup golden raisins
18 fresh basil leaves
3/4 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
6 good-quality hamburger buns, split (kaiser or potato work well)
Grill grate or grill basket
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make the patties, heat the olive oil in a medium fire-proof skillet on the grill rack. Add the onion and sautÃ© about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, celery and carrots and sautÃ© until soft and translucent but not brown, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine the chuck, salt, pepper, pecorino-romano cheese, basil, tomato paste, wine and onion mixture in a large bowl,
handling the mix as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To make the tomato spread, use your fingers to gently dislodge and remove the watery pulp and seeds from the tomato halves. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brush a grill grate or grill basket with olive oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side down on the grill surface. Cover the grill and let cook for about 4 minutes. (Check after 2 minutes.) Use a metal spatula to lift tomatoes off of the grill. Set aside. Toast the pine nuts in a small fire-proof skillet on the grill rack until they are lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. To a food processor add the tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, garlic, paprika, wine, lemon juice, salt, and red-pepper flakes; process until nuts are finely ground and mixture is well combined. With the motor running, add oil; process until a paste forms (you may not need the entire 1/4 cup of oil).
Soak the raisins in hot water for 5 minutes to plump them. Set aside.
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, 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. Place the equally divided cheese slices on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 1-2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread each bun half with a generous portion of the tomato spread. On the bottom bun half, add equal portions of raisins, followed by a cheese-topped patty and 3 basil leaves. Add the bun tops and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.