“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day BBQ- Italian Sausage and Peppers Burgers with Zucchini and Eggplant Chips

Memorial Day has arrived!! Which officially means that beach season is here, I can finally enjoy a  stroll on the beach in my best bathing suit and a nice, cold ice cream (ahem, gelato) cone in hand. Memorial Day weekend is also the PERFECT excuse to invite some friends over, blast some music and throw a party, but not just any party, a BBQ of course! Now, some of us don’t have BBQ’s. Maybe we don’t know how to actually work a BBQ in the backyard or if you’re a city girl like me, you can’t have one in an apartment obviously. But that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a wonderful mock bbq!! And because I always have to put my own twist on everything, I just have to throw an Italian BBQ!

Now, when I think of Memorial Day and eating in someone’s backyard or even on my own terrace (I’m in NYC, it’s as close to a backyard as I’m gonna get!!) I love the idea of getting my hands messy and nothing says messy to me like a burger, but not just any burger. My Italian Sausage and Peppers Burger!! A delicious burger made with sausage and beef, topped with caramelized peppers and onions and fresh fontina!! And of course, you need something on the side, right? Well what goes better with a burger than chips!!! But again, I have to put my own fun twist on everything, so I’m making eggplant and zucchini chips!!!! And to enjoy with these delicious treats, some garlic aioli!! 

This is the perfect meal to enjoy over Memorial Day weekend! Buon Appetito!!

Italian Sausage and Peppers Burgers

The Burger Part

¾ pound ground lean beef
¾ pound sausage (you can use already ground sauce or around 2-3 links depending on the size)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

If you are using sausage links, start by taking the case off of each link. Add to a bowl with the ground beef. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. I use my kitchen aid electric hand mixer with dough hooks to combine the meat, if you don’t have something like that; you can combine it gently with your hands, but not too much!! Once the meat is combined, form into patties. Prepare your pan, grill, BBQ, whatever you’re using, with some oil. Put the patties down. Since these are made with sausage, you have to make sure they are thoroughly cooked through; NO ONE WANTS TO EAT RAW PORK!! Cook for around 6-10 minutes on each side.

The Pepper and Onion Part

1 large sweet onion
3 cubanelle peppers
2 tbsp. oil

Clean your peppers, and then slice into thin strips, along with the onions. Prepare a medium size pan (or grill or bbq) with the oil. Add the peppers and onions and cook over low heat until they are nice and caramelized, around 40 minutes. I prefer cooking them on low heat so they don’t burn and get hard.

The Cheese Part

6 slices of fresh fontina

The Assembling of the Burger

Get yourself a nice fresh ciabatta or focaccia roll (like I did!!), slice it in half and put it on your grill or bbq for a minute or so to get a nice smoky taste. Take the bread off and add your burger, a nice serving of the peppers and onions and a slice or two of fontina.

Zucchini and Eggplant Chips

2 Japanese eggplants (I like to use them because of the size, they’re perfect for chips!)
2 zucchini

1 cup of oil (for frying)

3/4 cup of cornstarch
¼ cup of flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup of water
1 egg

Clean your eggplants and zucchini and dry them. Cut the zucchini and eggplant into very thin slices (You can make them however thin or thick you like, but they will fry better when they are thin and taste even crispier.)

Mix all of your dry ingredients, the cornstarch, flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Then add your water and egg and beat lightly.

Use a deep enough pan to fry. Set your stove on high heat and put the oil in the pan. You will want to wait for it to really heat up before beginning to fry. Once it is hot, dip your vegetables in the batter and carefully immerse in the oil. Allow each side to fry for at least two minutes. Take the vegetables and put on a wire rack to cool. Salt lightly and enjoy!!

Garlic Aioli

1 cup of real mayonnaise
¼ cup olive oil with roasted garlic
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. paprika

Simply mix and of the ingredients together in a food processor and pulse a few times until the roasted garlic is broken down. Enjoy on the burger or with the chips!!

Enjoy these crispy delicious treats with your burger and a nice cold beer (it is Memorial Day weekend, I think beer might be more fitting than wine), put on some music and have some fun with friends and family this weekend and let’s kick off the summer right!! Mangia Bene!! 

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