The American Burger….add some Tuscan flair and take it up a notch to a “Gourmet Burger” by adding Pecorino Cheese, some caramelized onions, a little sage, some gingery homemade ketchup, and top it off with fresh Foccacia Bread!  Wow!  Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions in the April 2014 Food & Wine Magazine  sounded amazing!  I had been looking for new twist on the everyday burger…could this be the recipe I was looking for?

Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions
Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions

I sent Jeff to the grocery store with clear instructions on what to buy (he came through mostly!) and was excited about the fresh ingredients he brought home.  All except for one:  Herb-Flavored Foccacia Bread.  I knew that might conflict with the flavors in the burger and it turned out I was right so note to everyone out there:  If you can’t find PLAIN Foccacia Bread for this recipe, go with another kind of bread/bun like Ciabatta!

I was also very wary of the Pecorino Cheese when I tasted it…it was very strong and I thought surely this is going to overwhelm the burger but as it turned out the sweetness of the homemade ketchup complemented it perfectly!  So make sure that if you try this recipe, you do not skip the ketchup or try to take some of the sweetness out of it.  It just works!

Ingredients

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 medium onions (1 pound), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced sage
Four 4-inch focaccia squares, split horizontally
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
4 slices of young Pecorino cheese (4 ounces)
Directions
Let’s start with the ketchuP

Ingredients prepped and ready to go for the ketchup
Ingredients prepped and ready to go for the ketchup
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until a medium amber caramel forms, 8 to 10 minutes.
Combine vinegar and sugar and cook until an amber caramel forms
Combine vinegar and sugar and cook until an amber caramel forms
Carefully add the tomatoes and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes.
Ketchup mixture is starting to thicken
Ketchup mixture is starting to thicken
Transfer to a blender and puree.
We used an immersion blender to puree the ketchup mixture
We used an immersion blender to puree the ketchup mixture
Strain the ketchup through a sieve. Stir in the ginger and season with salt and pepper.
The ginger and seasoning has been added and the ketchup is ready to go
The ginger and seasoning has been added and the ketchup is ready to go

Now for our burgers…..In a large skillet,heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden, 15 minutes.  Stir in the sage and keep warm.

Onions are carmelized and sage has gone in
Onions are caramelized and Sage has gone in
Preheat the oven to 475°. Heat a griddle (or you can use a cast iron skillet like I did.) Lightly brush the griddle with oil and toast the focaccia on it until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the focaccia to plates.
Focaccia bread grilling
Focaccia bread grilling
Gently shape the ground beef into four 1/2-inch-thick patties and season with salt and pepper. Note:  Jeff prefers perfect patties so he actually measured each one..ha, ha!  We also decided to do the patties in two batches so as not to crowd the pan and accidentally steam the patties.
Patties going on
Patties going on
Griddle the burgers over high heat until browned, 1 minute per side.
Patties almost ready to come off
Patties almost ready to come off
Transfer to a baking sheet and top each one with a slice of cheese.
Patties topped with Pecorino Cheese
Patties topped with Pecorino Cheese
Bake for 5 minutes for medium-rare.
Patties and Cheese melting in the oven...yummy!
Patties and Cheese melting in the oven…yummy!
Set the burgers on the focaccia and top with the onions and a dollop of the ketchup. Close the burgers and serve.
Our version of the burger...looks quite impressive!
Our version of the burger…looks quite impressive!
Bottom Line:  The burger was perfect except for that herb-flavored focaccia bun!  The richness of the cheesed melded perfectly with the gingery sweet ketchup and the caramelized onions with the sage flavor tied it all together!  I served with some homemade macaroni and cheese and paired it with Chianti Wine. 
The next time I make these burgers, I think I will do them as sliders instead.  They pack a lot of punch and are very filling but would make the perfect dinner party appetizer!
FYI:  Did you notice the title of the recipe said Chianti but there wasn’t any in the recipe…so odd so I thought they must have named it this so you would assume to pair it with the Chianti wine…

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