New York City “Oy Vey” Deli Burgers

Pairs well with:


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

The Jewish delicatessen has been synonymous with New York City, my hometown, dating back to the late 1800s.Popular with locals, visitors, Jews, and non-Jews alike, the deli experience conjured up memories of the delicious smells and tastes of giant pastrami sandwiches. However you like them, with or without cole slaw, maybe a “schmear” of mustard, you just can not beat them, especially with some pickles and chopped liver. In my unique burger with a special regional twist, you can experience the ultimate taste and tradition of the New York City deli.


Pickle Butter:
3 kosher dill pickles
6 tablespoons butter, softened

2 pounds beef (chuck), ground
½ cup onion, grated
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing grill racks
12 slices pastrami
6 challah (or brioche) rolls
6 tablespoons chopped liver spread
6 tablespoons cole slaw
3 tablespoons spicy brown deli mustard


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

To make the pickle butter, finely chop pickles in a food processor or with a knife and combine with softened butter. Using plastic wrap, roll pickle butter into a log shape and set aside in freezer. Once firm, at least 30 minutes, cut into six equal sized discs.

To make the patties, combine the beef, onion, Worcestershire Sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl and handling as little as possible, shape into 6 bun-sized patties. Using your thumb, create a well for the compound butter discs. Set disc in well and pull sides of each patty up and around so disc is completely enclosed in the center of each patty.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill racks 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. Remove patties to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes so they retain their juices.

While patties rest, grill the pastrami slices about 2 minutes on each side until slightly charred and almost crispy. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble burgers, spread equal amounts of chopped liver on each bun bottom. Top with a grilled patty, then equal amounts of grilled pastrami and cole slaw. Spread bun tops with mustard, place on top of each burger, and enjoy!