Caprese Pesto Burgers is a hamburger to remember
Peggy Lampman |Contributor
mean fighting machine!
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Hamburgers are an affectionate memoir of the 20th century American appetite, recalling backyard barbecues, squirt bottles of ketchup, and thighs sticking to vinyl in a small-town diner. There’s no stopping the free-wheeling burger, and in the spirit of free enterprise, empires continue to be built in the 21st century upon our insatiable, unblushing appetite for quarter-pounders, fully loaded, piled high on a sesame seed bun.
Hamburgers burst forth in a spirit of democracy, particularly suited to a capitalist economy. In Ann Arbor, for instance, you may grab a burger at the roll-back price of two bucks plus change at Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger. Then, head up the street, hang a right down Main, and pull up a chair at Vinology, where Kobe beef sliders, with a trio of house-made ketchups, make a small meal for ten big ones. Catch the restaurant at happy hour and that same plate is half price.
The recipe’s author, Grace Parisi, makes her pesto with basil, almonds and Pecorino-Romano — a laudable combination with the tang of sheep’s milk cheese. I made a huge batch of pesto several months ago and froze it, but used pine nuts instead of almonds and cow’s milk Parmigiana Reggiano instead of Pecorino. Most cooks who love Italian food have their own version of the classic Italian paste, and any made-from-scratch pesto would be appropriate in the following recipe.
The debate may never end regarding fat-to-meat ratios, whether grass- or corn-fed cattle produces the best grind, or if the knowledge regarding the source of the product is important. I waffle when it comes to fat content; my palate prefers a fattier, thus juicier, burger, but health data suggests I refrain. But I avoid eating corn-fed, feed-lot beef, and especially grinds, when I haven’t a clue as to the origin.
The following recipe was adapted from Food and Wine. Click here for other memorable burgers, including the Bacon-Jam Burger, Go-Blue Cheese Burger, Portabella Burger and a knock-your-socks off Turkey Burger.
Yield: 6 burgers
Time: 35 minutes
1 heaping cup prepared basil pesto
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 pound ground beef sirloin
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 slices
6 hamburger buns, split
2 tomatoes, sliced
1. Gently knead 1/4 cup of pesto into the ground chuck and sirloin. Form the mixture into six patties.
2. Oil grill grates, and heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes. Flip the burgers, top with mozzarella slices and close the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes longer for medium-rare burgers.
3. Grill the buns until lightly toasted, then divide the remaining pesto on the bottom of the buns. Top with the burger and tomatoes. Close the burgers and serve.
Peggy Lampman is a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on her website and in the Food & Grocery section of Annarbor.com. You may also e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.