Burgers are more American than Apple Pie. I apologize to all the mothers and grandmothers who are at this very moment sharpening their knives as they consider the best way to chop me into little pieces. But, it’s true!
Americans eat more burgers in a day than they do apple pie in a week. No, the McDonald’s apple pies don’t count because they only contain about 2 grams of apple per pie. Come on! Go tell your mom right now that McD’s makes an apple pie worth mentioning in the same breath – or decade – as hers. I’ll send flowers to your grave.
Anyway, back to burgers. We eat a LOT of burgers. Little cheap patties of cow tails and lips that pretend to be food at some fast food joint. A better version of a fast food burger at places like In-n-Out or Five Guys. Bigger, better tasting burgers at chain restaurants. Even gourmet burgers costing a hundred dollars or more at some New York steakhouses that put together burgers you’d never consider making at home, because who has black truffle oil sitting in their pantry?
Most of the time, when discussing burgers, the conversation runs one of two ways. Either you talk about the special things you do to the beef, what you add and why. Or you talk about toppings and condiments – which cheese is best, why A-1 Steak Sauce is great on a burger… things like that. Very seldom, however, does the conversation turn to beef alternatives. And if it does, it’s to discuss how horrible a veggie burger is. (Actually, they’re pretty good, but you know guys. A burger means MEAT!)
Today, we’re going to have some fun with a non-beef burger that pretty much any guy (my Jewish friends excepted) is going to love. It’s as easy to make as any other burger, and you won’t need too many toppings. So follow along and let’s get our Italian on and let’s have some fun!
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both)
1/2 cup finely minced onion
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 thick slices of tomato (optional)
1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto
4 round ciabatta or other hearty rolls
Optional Topping – Wilted Spinach
1 bag baby spinach
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic , minced or crushed
If grilling the burgers, go light your grill first so it’s good and hot when you’re ready.
Remove sausage from casings if necessary, and put in large bowl.
Add finely minced onion to sausage. Moisten your hands, then use your hands to fold the onions into the sausage. Don’t be a wimp! Be a Man! Yes, you’re hands are going to get messy. That’s why God created soap and water.
Form sausage into four patties a bit larger than the buns you will use. You make them larger because they’re going to shrink a bit while cooking. Also, while your at it, push a small depression into the middle of each burger. Ever notice how your burgers will bulge in the middle? Making the depressions prevents that.
Brush burgers with oil and grill or pan fry them for about five minutes.
If using the wilted spinach, bring a 1/4 inch of water to boil in a large skillet (the largest you have).
Add spinach to pan and stir while cooking until just wilted – about 1 minute or so.
Now, wipe the skillet dry, reheat over high heat, then heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.
Add the garlic and stir over high heat, until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir the garlic throughout so it doesn’t burn.
Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.
Turn off heat and set aside till ready to use.
Meanwhile, continue cooking burgers.
Carefully flip the burgers and continue to cook for another five minutes. If using cheese, place a slice on top of each burger after you flip it.
Toast buns while burgers finish.
Place a slice of tomato on the bottom of each bun. Add a burger. Top with wilted spinach if desired.
Serve immediately and get ready to make more!
You can use other condiments if you so desire. Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup… any will work. Personally, I prefer to leave them off because this is my “break from beef” burger alternative and I want it to be different from the hamburgers I make.
Another condiment I’ve seen suggested is sun-dried tomato pesto – sort of a fancy ketchup alternative.
For a real treat, spread some Blue Cheese Aioli on top of the burger before you put cheese on it. Oh. My. DOG!
You could also omit the diced onions and opt for a nice thick onion slice on the bun instead.
You should do the wilted spinach because it’s awesome! But if you don’t, use fresh spinach leaves instead of lettuce. It’s SO much better!
If you’re really, really, REALLY into basil, you could use fresh basil leaves instead of the spinach. I have a few friends that swear by this!
You can do a Southern take on this by using breakfast sausage (such as Jimmy Dean’s). Of course, you could go whole hog and add a fried egg on top, which is just amazingly awesome. I usually do these for a weekend brunch.
There you go, y’all – an Italian take on an American classic. Have fun, and don’t forget:
Play with your food… er… drink!
Did you like this recipe? What recipes would you like to learn? Leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts! (And don’t forget to LIKE this post!) Share it using the tiles below.