Under the Texan Sun Burgers
I currently reside in Nevada, but I spent half of my childhood in Texas (the other half in New Jersey), and I still have that Texas state pride!
These moist and flavorful burgers have a “Texas meets Tuscany” inspiration. Both places are sunny with beautiful landscapes and friendly natives who are very proud of their heritage and cuisine. The components of this burger have taken a few typically Italian items and given them an all-American Lone Star twist. The Texas Tapenade incorporates pecans, representing the Texas state tree, jalapenos, the Texas state pepper, cilantro, and liquid smoke, for that Texas barbecue accent. Texas Red Grapefruit is the Texas state fruit, and it combines beautifully with arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fennel in a bright, sunny salad. Who says that you need to travel to Italy for creamy mozzarella? Dallas-based Mozzarella Company makes some of the best that I have ever tasted, so it fits perfectly with this burger’s theme. Prosciutto is sizzled until crispy in a cowboy’s cast-iron skillet, adding one more element of fusion.
For the Texas Tapenade:
2 cups chopped portobella mushrooms
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
3/4 cup chopped toasted Texas pecans
5 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 anchovy fillet
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
2 teaspoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons Colavita olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Texas Red Grapefruit Salad:
1 cup Texas Red Grapefruit segments
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup Texas Red Grapefruit juice
1/4 cup Colavita olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Generous pinch crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons Colavita olive oil
6 slices Prosciutto
For the patties:
2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup Texas Tapenade (recipe above)
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Pinot Noir
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Vegetable oil for brushing the grill
6 slices smoked mozzarella (I used Texas-based Mozzarella Company’s version)
6 Soft Ciabatta sandwich rolls, split
Recipe serves 6
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
Prepare the Texas Tapenade: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the chopped mushrooms, cilantro, pecans, garlic, anchovy, jalapeno, lemon zest and juice, Tabasco, liquid smoke, and cumin. Pulse the ingredients until finely chopped and well combined. Add the olive oil and process the mixture until smooth. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and pulse to blend. Transfer the Tapenade to a medium bowl, cover, and set aside.
Prepare the Texas Red Grapefruit salad: In a medium bowl combine the grapefruit segments, fennel, grapefruit juice, olive oil, olives, parsley, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir to blend. Cover and set aside.
Heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 12-inch fireproof or cast iron skillet set over the grill rack at medium-hot heat. Add the Prosciutto slices and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until the slices are crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the slices to paper towels to drain and then wrap in foil to keep warm.
Prepare the patties: In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, Texas Tapenade, Pinot Noir, and salt and mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the rolls.
Add the arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano to the grapefruit mixture and toss to mix. Cover and set aside.
Grill the patties: Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook, turning once, 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. During the last few minutes of grilling, place one slice of cheese on each patty and place the rolls, cut sides down, around the circumference of the grill to lightly toast.
Assemble the burgers: Spread the top halves of the rolls with a thin layer of the reserved Tapenade. Place some of the grapefruit salad on the bottom halves of the rolls (drain the salad first to avoid soggy rolls!) Top the salad with a patty and a few pieces of crispy Prosciutto, broken to fit the size of the patties. Add the top halves of the rolls and serve immediately!