The Over-Stuffed Cleveland Burger

Pairs well with:


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

In the Cleveland area, where I live, there are these restaurants called “Panini’s” that stay open late and serve what they call their “overstuffed” sandwich. This sandwich is served on thick Italian bread and contains the cold cuts of your choice. Then it’s topped with cheese, fresh cut french fries, coleslaw, and tomato, creating this huge sandwich that is loved by every Clevelander I know. It’s the perfect sandwich after a long night out.

For my burger, I decided to take the idea of this beloved sandwich and put my own spin on it by adding the burger patty and spicing up the coleslaw. This burger is delicious and screams Cleveland and that’s why I consider it a great local American burger.


For the slaw:
3/4 cup mayonnaise (like Hellmanns)
1/4 cup (heaping) stone ground mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons clover honey
1 1/2 teaspoons guajillo chile powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (+ 1/4 teaspoon more)
3 medium poblano peppers, seeded and julienned
21 oz. green cabbage (about 1 medium head), cored and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

For the burger patties:
3 lbs. ground sirloin
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
12 slices white American cheese

The rest:
1- 30 oz. bag of frozen country style French fries (like Ore-ida)
12- 1 inch thick slices of Italian bread
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
12 thin slices capicola
1/2 cup mayonnaise for spreading


First, make the slaw by combining the first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. This bowl will be used to mix all of the slaw together, so it should be big. Whisk together until combined. Next, add the sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. For the vegetables, slice up 3 medium poblano peppers and a whole medium head of green cabbage. Make sure all the vegetables are cut into thin strips. Chop up the fresh cilantro. Now, add the vegetables and the cilantro to the wet ingredients and mix together until all the vegetables are coated. Sprinkle another 1/4 teaspoon black pepper over the entire mixture and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

While the slaw is chilling, turn your grill on, then close the lid. You want the grill to reach 450 degrees with the lid closed. Place the frozen French fries onto a non-stick cookie sheet in one layer. Once the grill has reached 450 degrees, open the lid and place the cookie sheet with the fries directly onto the grill; close the lid. Bake the fries for 25 minutes (or 5 more minutes than the bag directions indicate so they are crispy).

While the fries are baking, form your burger patties. Each burger patty should be 1/2 lb. in weight. Shape each patty into an oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick and slightly bigger than the bread you are using (since the burgers will shrink when grilled). Drizzle olive oil on both sides of each patty and season both sides with sea salt and pepper to taste.

When the fries are done, remove them from the grill and set aside. Now, turn the grill heat to medium for the burgers. Grill the burgers to a medium-well doneness. When the burgers are done, place them on a platter and immediately top each one with 2 slices of white American cheese. Cover the platter with aluminum foil to keep the burgers warm.

For the bread, drizzle only one side of each slice with olive oil. Place the slices of bread olive oil side down onto the grill. Close the grill lid so the bread is warmed throughout. Grill the bread only a few minutes until the olive oil side is golden brown. Remove the bread and place onto another platter.

In a cast iron pan, add the 12 slices of capicola and cook until heated through; about 2 minutes. Remove the capicola from the pan and set aside.

To assemble the burgers, line up 6 slices (golden brown side down) of the Italian bread. Spread mayonnaise on each slice. Then, top each slice with a cheesy burger patty. Top each burger patty with 2 slices of capicola. Then, top each one with 5 ounces of French fries. On top of each pile of fries, place a healthy portion of the slaw. Top each burger off with another slice of Italian bread (golden brown side up). Smash down each burger (gently) so everything stays in place. Carefully, cut each burger in half to serve.