“That’s Amore” Italian Burgers

Pairs well with:


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

The Workin’ Man’s Tomato Sauce I make with Jowlciale (a smoked version of guanciale from Virginia).Usually serve the sauce over pasta and my family loves it. Thought it’d make a hearty burger recipe.


Workin’ Man’s Tomato Sauce
4 oz guanciale, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (I actually prefer Jowlciale, a smoked version from Surry Farms in VA)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup red wine (I used Sutter Home Zinfandel, but could also use their Merlot)
1 (28-oz.) can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

1 garlic clove, grated (I use a Microplane grater)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 pound (80/20) ground pork
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
Olive or vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
1/3 pound smoked mozzarella, sliced into sixths
6 bun-sized focaccia bread sections, sliced horizontally
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Dressed Arugula
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups arugula
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese


To prepare sauce, place guanciale and olive oil in a large fire-proof skillet and cook on a gas grill over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until guanciale is crisp. Drain guanciale on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add onions to hot drippings, and cook on gas grill over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until slightly caramelized. Meanwhile, chop reserved guanciale (chopped finer than rough chop, but not minced). Add garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, smoked paprika, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add red wine, tomatoes, and half of the reserved guanciale (the remaining half of reserved guanciale goes in patties). Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is thick. (Should have about 1 1/2). Remove from the heat, cover with foil, and keep warm.

To prepare patties, combine garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, ground pork, and ground chuck in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the focaccia sections.

Heat the grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the patties, cover, and continue cooking for another 4 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place a slice of smoked mozzarella cheese on top of each patty. Brush the cut sides of the focaccia with olive oil, and place, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To prepare salad, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Combine arugula, basil, and Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Drizzle olive oil mixture over arugula mixture, tossing gently.

To assemble the burgers, place a patty on each toasted focaccia bottom; top each patty with 1/4 cup Workin’ Man’s Tomato Sauce. Top each patty with 1/4 cup Dressed Arugula. Add the focaccia tops and serve.