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Ingredient Wed Jul 09 2008
Giardiniera, the spicy condiment of chopped sport peppers, carrots, olives, cauliflower and celery, all marinated in olive oil, is how Chicagoans add that certain something to Italian beef sandwiches. Ask for a side of giardiniera anywhere outside of Chicago, and you're likely to get a blank stare. In my opinion, it's one of Chicago's best-kept culinary secrets, and I love to experiment with it.
A few mornings ago, I woke up dreaming of giardiniera turkey burgers stuffed with smoked cheddar cheese. Tonight, my dreams came true. My husband and I both agree these are the best burgers I've ever made. Want to try them yourself? Here's how:
Cut three, one-ounce portions of smoked cheddar cheese off the block. Keep in mind you're going to stuff the cheese into the center of a burger, so you're aiming for a small block of cheese, not a slice. (Incidentally, we used a local cheese available at Whole Foods.)
In a large bowl, mix together a pound of ground turkey, half-cup of plain bread crumbs, a tablespoon of poultry seasoning, and two heaping tablespoons of spicy giardiniera. We used a great mix from an awesome Chicago institution, Joseph's Finest Meats.
Divide the meat mixture into three equal portions and shape each portion into an oval. Place a piece of cheese toward the top of each oval and fold the rest of the meat over it, gently patting each patty into a circle to fully enclose the cheese.
At this point, you can grill the burgers or pan-fry them, as I prefer to do with stuffed burgers. We sandwiched the patties between delicious, sweet-ish buns from a neighborhood Mexican bakery, lightly toasted and slathered with homemade garlic mayo. Topped off with a crisp slice of bacon and fresh-from-the-farm lettuce, these juicy, spicy burgers with melted cheese centers can't be beat.