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Monday, June 29, 2009

Pancetta, Smoked Gouda, and Caramelized Onion Burgers: Recipe

What is the key to an awesome hamburger? Many chefs try to figure that out but in my humble opinion, I happen to think that the best burgers start with one key ingredient: fat.

The "fat is flavor" concept works for things like mashed potatoes - using butter and heavy cream - or say a breakfast sandwich with bacon, eggs and cheese. So using that concept I wanted to make the most flavorful burger I could create. Since there is nothing like bacon atop one's burger, why not put it inside the burger? Pancetta - Italian-style bacon - seemed the perfect addition to bring my burger to the next level.

Once you put the onions together with the melted cheese and the avocado - that smooth and creamy texture - it was simply perfect. I served this with the simplest of salads to balance out the Burger: 1 lb. Heirloom baby tomatoes from Trader Joes with 1 Tbsp of fresh basil chiffonade drizzled with the best Olive oil and a few sprinkles of sea salt from France. YUMMY!

Pancetta, Smoked Gouda, and Caramelized Onion Burgers
1 1/4 lb. ground round
4 oz. uncooked pancetta, cubed into 1/4" dice
1 egg
3 shakes red hot sauce
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 ripe avocado
5 slices smoked Gouda
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 large Vidallia Onion, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Prepare grill.

In a small frying pan set over high heat, saute the pancetta until crispy (use a dry pan). Drain and cool pancetta on paper bags or paper towels to absorb the oil it cooked off.

In a large bowl, mix the beef, pancetta, hot sauce, egg and cheese until well mixed. Form patties (about 4 or 5). Cook burgers about 6 minutes per side, for medium-rare. Add Gouda to burgers at last 2 minutes and melt cheese.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat until hot and add the onions. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to brown. With heat still on high, add the wine and boil about 5 minutes or until the liquid begins to evaporate. Add the sugar and continue to cook another 2 minutes - stirring often. Set aside.

Combine burgers on toasted buns with onions and a slice of avocado.

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