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The Italian Stallion Burger

July 26, 2010 by Joan Nova in Family Food Fight, Food Challenge, Italian, Meat | 24 Comments

After a long hiatus, Our Family Food Fight is back!

The theme: Surprise (stuffed) Burgers.
The challenge: present a burger with a surprise stuffing. And, of course, it had to be thematically correct, appropriately dressed and accompanied.
The Contestants: The usual suspects (Jim, Cassie, me) plus our newest family member, Julie (Jim’s wife). We’ll have to update that photo in the sidebar one of these days.

I debated between calling mine “The Sunday Sauce Burger” or “The Italian Stallion”. It has all the components and flavors of an Italian Sunday Sauce dinner but, as I developed the idea and went with the ‘one-burger-for-all’ instead of sliders, it began to take on the personality of an ‘Italian Stallion’. Besides, I liked the rhyming. :)

So, here’s my Italian Stallion Burger which was served on a pizza round with giardiniera relish and fried spaghetti and parmesan crisp garnishes.

ground lean beef (about 3/4 lb.)
prepared as meatball with egg, parmesan, parsley, garlic and s+p (I did not add breadcrumbs to keep the texture more like a burger)

shredded pork (about 3 ozs.) braised in pasta sauce till it shreds
1 large hot sausage link baked and ground before assembly

Halve ground beef mixture, shape and salt again. Layer sausage meat and braised pork, add top half of burger and mold together. Add another dusting of salt, brush pasta sauce and sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese. Note: The stuffing meat was pre-cooked so that the beef wouldn’t have to be grilled-to-death to be sure the stuffing was cooked.

As you can see, I used a large circular plastic container top as the mold. Here it is halved, filled with stuffing and ready for top half half to be up-ended.

Brushed with pasta sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan, it is ready for the grill.

The Bun
Here I made a mistake…or so I’ve been told. :)  In a futile effort to add a health(ier) element to the dish I chose a thin crust whole wheat pizza round (store bought + cut to size). Admittedly, it was too thin for such a massive amount of meat, but I’m also told it was too healthy tasting. Suffice it to say, it was generally unappreciated by all, including me. However, I did brush it with olive oil and a sprinkle of rosemary, s+p.

Fried Spaghetti + Parmesan Crisp Garnishes
I baked, not fried, a handful of whole wheat thin spaghetti that had been brushed with a little oil and a sprinkling of salt. 375 degrees for just a few minutes. Here, too, because I chose whole wheat spaghetti it was under-appreciated. But they’re wrong. Just wrong. That tasted good! The grated parmesan was baked on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until brown.

Giardiniera Relish
Boil white or cider vinegar with garlic clove, juniper berries, black peppercorns, star anise, fennel seed. Remove from heat and add finely chopped cauliflower, carrots, celery, fennel, zucchini, cured black olives, oregano, salt + pepper. Drizzle of EVOO. Tip: Good idea to remove peppercorns, juniper berries and garlic before adding vegetables. I learned the hard way. Also, I ended up mincing the mixture to a smaller, more relish-like size, before layering on to the burger. I thought the giardiniera was the perfect complement to the heavy burger; others thought it too vinegary.

The Assembly. Grilled pizza round, brushing of pasta sauce, the burger, parmesan crisp, giardiniera relish.

So what did the other contestants present? You’ll definitely want to go to  Jim’s site for real food porn photos (he took the 2 of my Italian Stallion burger above). You’ll see a Burger King Crab (my favorite entry), a Lebanese Vegetarian and a Christmas/Thanksgiving Burger.

Next Family Food Fight Challenge: It’ll be sweet. It’ll be just desserts. It’ll be a damn challenge for FOODalogue!

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Brad says:

    Nice! Rocky Balboa would be proud…

  2. Never ate this surprising delight! Wonderful idea and gorgeous photos…clap clap clap!! :)



  3. elra says:

    Drool worthy Joan. Never seen burger this beautiful :)

  4. giz says:

    This is no longer a burger – it’s a total extravaganza!!! OMG Joan – I really want to see what the others came up with. The sampling must have been a riot.

  5. Katie says:

    I bet this would be awesome as a stuffed meatloaf. Mouthwatering photos, Joan!

  6. Wow Joan! What an effort! That does look like one mammoth sized burger. Loving the relish as well.

  7. Marie says:

    I love your creative mind, I think you got something going here Joan! This is a new burger concept, you could sell these from a food truck and make a fortune!

  8. There is no doubt in my mind that this has to be in my repertoire before the summer ends Joan.

  9. Peter says:

    Aaaaaadrian! AAAAAAAADRIAN! AAAAAAAAA-DRRRRRRI-ANNNN! The champ wants the Italian Stallion burger!

  10. norma says:

    Wow! So many flavors…robust and you are right a belly buster.

  11. Now this is a man pleaser to be sure.

  12. Lazaro says:

    This is the type of creative cooking that inspires me. Fantastic job with the burger…and the rest of the food.

    Great pics by the way.

  13. Ready for battle and fit too! Love the fried spaghetti my daughters would love it. It looks superb Joan!

  14. The pizza sauce and parmesan sound great on a burger, and I really love the idea of the giardiniera relish! I have to try that.

  15. Erica says:

    Wow! What a delicious burger!!!Creative and beautiful presentation.

  16. Damaris says:

    It’s so fun that you guys do this. I love it. Food fights around here is pretty much me screaming at Enzo to eat.

  17. Geez Joan – you’ve outdone yourself with this one which I nearly impossibe to do in your case :)

    I really admire your dedication to the craft.

    Cao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  18. elly says:

    Wow, Joan! That is one meaty burger! Love the giardiniera!

  19. Joan, what a creation! Rocky would be proud! You’re challenges are always so much fun. As soon as I get some info on the trip I’m planning for next year, I will definitely let you know ;) Have a great weekend!

  20. Brian says:

    This looks great. But did the pizza get soggy?

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