Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Italian Meatball Burgers...

For tonight's dinner, we took a pound of plain 'ol ground sirloin and ramped it up to make these Italian Meatball Burgers.

Before even getting to the details, just from the title alone these burgers sounded too good to pass up. Into the beef, the seasonings we mixed in were dried oregano, basil, a bit of garlic and crushed fennel seeds for its distinct zing. While those started us off well, what really cranked these up were the addition of a couple links of hot Italian turkey sausage! You could use a pork sausage if you like, but I tend to always have a few links of the leaner turkey in the freezer.

Use a light hand when mixing the combo together - just work it enough so it looks like the sausage is fairly even throughout. When you divide the meat into six portions, don't go hog wild and use all your strength to compact it into tight rounds - while you do want it to hold together, it doesn't take much to form the burgers. When you finish that, take your thumb and give each patty an indent in the center - this helps the burgers retain their shape and keeps them evenly thick as the cook. Once our grill was toasty and ready, the burgers went on and were only flipped once, then cooked for a couple extra minutes before we graced the top with thinly slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Timing is somewhat important with these and you won't want to add the cheese too early. It would wise to have an instant-read thermometer handy - while I'm all for a medium-rare burger, since these have turkey in them, you'll want to let the inside warm up to 165 degrees before you whisk them off the grill to be safe.

I figured it had been too long since I made our favorite homemade burger buns, so I carved in enough time today to make a batch of them. I'm so glad I did that because I had almost forgotten just how good these buns are! Split and toasted, we topped those buns with the cheese-smothered burgers - what would be an appropriate condiment? Warmed marinara sauce, of course! While we did use ground sirloin, tossing the sausage in added extra moisture, which kept the burgers lean, yet still plenty juicy. The spice blend used drew us into each bite as it complimented that sausage, while the cheesy hat on top and contrasting sauce made for such an appealing presentation.