Little Italy of The Bronx Burgers
Why I Love This Recipe
I was born in the Bronx, New York at a time when the borough was still divided into ethnic clusters defined not just by the people who lived there but also by the food. We were one of a few Irish families in a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Italian meats and cheeses hung in shops, the smells of Italy floated through the streets. We moved upstate to while I was still young, but I was drawn back to the area when I went to college. It was then that I cooked my first meal using ingredients from the still thriving Italian shops of Arthur Avenue. I learned to cook the foods of the neighborhood the same way my grandmother did when she emigrated here from Ireland, by talking to the shop owners. These burgers feature flavors that bring me home to my old neighborhood.
Ingredients You'll Need
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled
1tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 (7 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck
8 ounces Pecorino Toscano cheese, large grated
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons Irish butter, divided
8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, cut into 6 equal sized slices
6 Ciabatta Rolls (Focaccia rolls may be substituted), split
6 thin slices Proscuitto di Parma
1 cup mixed baby salad greens
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice off the top of a garlic bulb and place on a 6 inch x 6 inch sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Seal loosely in the foil and place on the oven rack. Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally or until tender when gently squeezed. Set aside.
To prepare the Sun-dried Tomato Relish, finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and the roasted red peppers. In medium sized bowl, stir together the sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, capers, 1/4 cup of the basil and 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
To prepare the patties, break apart the ground beef chuck into a large bowl and squeeze in the roasted garlic (discard the skin). Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, the grated Pecorino Toscano cheese and the red pepper flakes; using your hands, gently combine being careful to not overwork the meat. Form the meat into 6 equal sized patties shaped to fit the rolls.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Arrange three patties in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the patties, arrange 1 slice of the mozzarella cheese on each and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium or continue cooking until desired doneness. Repeat process with another 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the remaining 3 patties. While the patties are cooking, combine three tablespoons of butter with the basil. Spread the basil butter on the split rolls and arrange on a baking sheet buttered side up; warm the buttered rolls in the oven until toasted.
To assemble the burgers, evenly divide the greens onto the bottom half of each of the rolls, top the greens with a patty, cheese side up followed by a slice of prosciutto. Spoon the sun-dried tomato relish over each, evenly dividing and top with the remaining roll halves.