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Playing Meatball Hero Burgers


For the Sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated into a bowl to catch juices
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 1 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano or marjoram, finely chopped or 1 scant teaspoon dried
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • Salt and pepper
For the Meatball Burgers
  • 4 slices good quality white or Italian bread, crusts removed
  • Whole milk, for soaking bread, 1 to 1 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion, 1/3 palmful
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 2 pinches
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a handful
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano, a handful
  • About 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound ball fresh mozzarella cheese or 1/2 pound deli-sliced mild provolone cheese
  • 6 Italian rolls with sesame seeds, split and lightly toasted
  • Torn basil, for garnish


Serves: 6 servings


Preheat oven to 325F.

Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor and pure to smooth. Place in a saucepot and gently simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to thicken and combine flavors.

For the burgers, soak bread in milk.

Place meats in a bowl and add seasonings, garlic, parsley, eggs, cheeses and olive oil, 2 turns of the bowl. Squeeze excess liquid from bread and crumble as you add it to meat.

Combine meatball mixture and form 6 patties. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast 20-25 minutes to cook through.

Switch on broiler when you remove burgers from oven. Place rack at center of oven.

Arrange toasted bun bottoms on a baking sheet. Turn burgers in sauce and set on bun bottoms. Top with sliced mozzarella or provolone and melt to bubbly under broiler. Top with torn basil and any remaining sauce and set bun tops in place.