La Bella Burger



This spicy Italian burger, oozing creamy mozzarella from every bite with bursts of sweet roasted red peppers and tangy pesto sauce… is an all-time crowd pleaser. I served all 3 of the international burgers (from recipes shown on this site) on 4th of July this year… and this was voted the favorite of the night. This burger is probably the most time intensive of all the ones I do… but completely worth the effort.

Ingredients
1 lb ground turkey – dark meat if possible (does not dry out as bad)
1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage (usually found in links)
1 egg
1 tbsp fresh garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped dry oregano
1 cup finely chopped fresh basil (divided – use 1 tbsp for meat mixture)
1 tbsp finely chopped dry thyme
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 pepper
8oz fresh mozzarella
1 sliced red bell pepper
1 cup spinach leaves (remove stems)
4 sourdough baker’s roll
Pesto Sauce
finely chopped fresh basil (remaining cup)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pine nuts – toasted
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper

Preparation
Mix first 8 ingredients together thoroughly… then add salt & pepper and olive oil. Turkey meat has a tendency to dry out quickly on the grill, so the olive oil will help maintain a tender, moist burger.

Form 8 thin patties with the meat mixture. Cut mozzarella cheese into 1/4 inch pieces. On top of one patty, scatter 4-5 mozzarella pieces throughout the center of the meat… leaving a little space between each cube. Be careful not to put cheese too close to the edges or it will leak out during grilling. Place another patty on top and seal edges together until cheese is completely buried.

Cut off the top of the red bell pepper and remove seeds and core. Then slice into 1/4″ rings and brush lightly with olive oil.

Pesto Sauce
In a dry frying pan, quickly toast the pine nuts. Should take less than 3 minutes. In a food processor, pulse basil leaves, toasted pine nuts and salt & pepper…. simultaneously adding olive oil through the feed tube. Once good puree is achieved, add the mayo and pulse 2-3 more times, scraping sides to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed. Don’t leave the processor on or the mixture will be too fine. You want some texture in order to taste each ingredient.

Ready To Cook?
Cook burgers meat over medium heat. Be sure to coat grill with non-stick spray. Cook about 8-10 minutes on each side (varies based on your grill – mine is slow). Keep in mind that turkey burger and turkey sausage will look different than beef or pork… and the sausage lends a reddish color, which can be mistaken for rare meat. Cook on the high end of 12 minutes if you want to be safe… though be careful not to cook too long or your burger will dry out. Try not to flip the burger too often as it tends to crumble. If the mozzarella starts to ooze out, don’t worry… that’s a sign that your burger is almost done.

Please red pepper rings on the upper or outer edges of grill. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Brush olive oil on the insides of both halves of the sourdough buns and also place on the upper or outer edges of grill. Remove when lightly toasted.

Spread pesto sauce on top & bottom bun. place spinach leaves on bottom bun and place meat on top of spinach leaves. Garnish top of meat with grilled red bell pepper, fold the halves together and you have La Bella Burger!

The Perfect Bite
I think the perfect bite here… is the first bite. The unexpected burst of hidden mozzarella cheese and spicy sausage leaves most people exclaiming, “Oh my gosh – what’s in this?!”. But it’s a burger… so every bite will be perfect. Reserve extra Pesto sauce for dipping your burger… and anything else you can find – dip away!

The Perfect Pairing
A pasta side might seem an obvious choice for an Italian burger, but that’s probably going to be too heavy. A green salad with Italian dressing would set this off perfect… try this salad. And you probably think I’m going to suggest a red wine… well, you’re right! I just got a bottle of a California Cabernet from Napa Valley called Avalon. But be sure to get the 2006 vintage – 2005 has gotten horrible reviews. A bad year for the folks at Avalon, I suppose. A bottle normally runs in the $12-$14 range… but on sale now 3 for $21.99 at Main Street Liquor in East Nashville! See it pays to live here on the Eastside…

Did You Know?
What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil and how can something be Extra Virgin? Someone had to ask, right?

Extra virgin – considered the best, least processed, comprising the oil from the first pressing of the olives.
Virgin – from the second pressing.
Pure – undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining.
Extra light – undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavor.

Why cook with olive oil versus Canola oil? Canola oil is a relatively recent development and the original crops were unfit for human consumption due to their high content of a dangerous fatty acid called euric acid. Canola marketers advertise that their oil has less fat content… however, they fail to mention that when heated (which is what happens when you cook.. hello) the oil tends to transition into dangerous trans fatty acids. Ahem. We don’t want that. Read here for more details.

The Blarney Burger


The Blarney Burger on FoodistaThe Blarney Burger



This Irish inspired hamburger is big and beefy and filled with rich tastes of whiskey and mustard sauce. Not to mention the earthy flavors of the crumbled bleu cheese nestled throughout the burger. Enjoy!

Ingredients
(makes 4 burgers)
Patties
2lbs ground sirloin (grass fed)
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1 egg
2 tablespoons Worchester
1/2 cup sweet onion – diced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese (set aside 1 tablespoon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
4 potato bread baker’s rolls or hamburger buns
Irish Mustard Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon horseradish
2 egg yolks, beaten

Preparation
Mix first 7 ingredients together thoroughly… then add salt & pepper. Form patties and pat together well.

Ready To Cook?

Irish Mustard Sauce
Put all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Continue whisking until smooth and thickened to consistency of pudding. This can be made ahead of time and last in the refrigerator for a week or more.

Bleu Cheese Butter-Wash
In a microwave safe bowl, add remaining tablespoon of bleu cheese crumbles and 2 tablespoons of butter and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Whisk well to create a bleu cheese butter-wash.

Burger
Cook meat over medium heat. Be sure to coat grill with non-stick spray. Cook about 8-10 minutes on each side depending on your doneness preference.
Brush bleu cheese butter-wash on the inside of the top & bottom buns and toast on the upper or outer edges of grill. Once rolls are lightly toasted, remove. Set meat on bottom bun and spoon Irish mustard sauce on top of meat patty. Add shredded cabbage and fold top and bottom together. And now you have The Blarney Burger!

The Perfect Bite
I think the perfect bite here… is the first bite. When all those rich ingredients explode in your mouth for the first time. But it’s a burger… so every bite will be perfect. Reserve extra mustard sauce for dipping your burger. I could drink that stuff!

The Perfect Pairing
This wouldn’t be an Irish burger unless you paired it with potatoes. Bobby Flay claims to make the Perfect Fries. I haven’t tried them… but plan to. See the recipe on SeriousEats.com. And of course, on a nice summer’s eve… what would wash this all down better than an ice cold Killian’s Red?

The Perfect Health
When most people think of the cuisine of Ireland… you don’t normally think of cheese right away. Maybe you think beef and potatoes, or Guinness and whiskey. But cheese? Ireland has at least a half dozen cheeses to choose from… and they’re not just cheddar. Read here for a list of their hard to find cheeses.

The Unagi Burger


This Japanese version of the burger is probably one of my favorites. It’s light and refreshing. You almost forget you’re eating a burger! Biting into a combination of fresh ginger, crisp cucumber and crunchy broccoli sprouts brings you a burst of surprising sweet and tangy goodness.

Ingredients
(makes 4 burgers)
2lbs ground sirloin beef (grass fed)
1/2 cup panko
1 egg
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup fresh ginger
1/2 cup green onions sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp of sesame oil
3/4 cup broccoli sprouts
*8 pcs of shaved cucumber ribbons (2 per burger)
4 whole wheat baker’s rollWasabi Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons wasabi paste

Preparation
Mix first 7 ingredients together thoroughly… then add salt & pepper. Form patties and pat together well. Because of the volume of ingredients in these burgers… they will fall apart easily on the grill.

*If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, use your regular vegetable peeler and slice the cucumber lengthwise. Don’t peel the cucumber first, you want the dark green edges still on the strip. See here for more details.

Wasabi Dressing
Mix all ingredients well. Taste it and add a little more wasabi paste if you like it really spicy. This can be made ahead of time and last in the refrigerator for a week or more. I always make extra because it makes a great dip.

Ready To Cook?
When ready to grill burgers, test one of the patties to see if it is holding up on the grill and not falling apart. These are delicate burgers to cook. Be sure to coat grill with non-stick spray. If it’s falling apart too much, try browning it in a skillet first so the outside is a little done. B careful not to brown it too much or it’ll dry out on the grill.

Brush sesame oil on the inside of the split baker’s roll and toast on the upper or outer edges of grill. When rolls are lightly toasted, spread wasabi sauce on top bun and add broccoli sprouts. Place meat on bottom bun and 2 cucumber ribbons on top of meat. Carefully fold together and you have The Unagi Burger!

The Perfect Bite
I think the perfect bite here… is the first bite. When all those fresh ingredients explode in your mouth for the first time. But it’s a burger… every bite will be perfect.

The Perfect Pairing
As a side dish… opt for a bowl of edamame instead of fries or chips. And if you haven’t tried sake before… now might be a good time to try it. Gekkeikan Sake can be served chilled or warm. Serve in small demitasse cups if you don’t have sake cups on hand.

The Perfect Health
Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. Read more here.
The Unagi Burger on FoodistaThe Unagi Burger