Bella Pienza Burgers

July 23, 2010
Author Notes

Pienza is a lovely little town atop a hill on the road between Montalcino and Montelpuciano. It has winding narrow little streets lined with shops ... in particular cheese shops that sell primarily pecorino. The town smells of pecorino and of Tuscany. These burgers are a tribute .... - aargersi —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

These are the next best thing to that trip to Tuscany. Aargersi makes a lovely little burger that is easy and delectable, packing flavor inside the burger with generous dry ground black pepper and lemon zest. The ground sirloin burger is then sealed with a brush of olive oil -- this locks in all the juiciness of the lean burger artfully. Then the way the fresh pecorino cheese melts completely to encapsulate this burger is almost magical. And who thinks to dress the vegetables we add to our burgers? Well, it is a great idea. This burger would be wonderful without anything else, but add the sophisticated dressed garnishes and a soft roll, and you have Tuscan heaven. I highly recommend this recipe exactly as aargersi describes. - Sagegreen —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil - plus additional for the burgers
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white truffle oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups arrugula
  • 4 slices of a perfect tomato (see note at bottom)
  • sliced fresh pecorino - make sure you get the soft fresh kind not the hard aged kind
  • 4 soft buns or rolls - I found pan de leche at my store, a brioche or challah roll would be nice too
In This Recipe
  1. Get the grill heating to med-high. Make the patties - put the beef, lemon zest, and measured salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix them gently and form into 4 patties. Press slightly in the center of each patty so they will cook evenly. Coat each patty with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Make the arrugula salad - whisk 1 tbs olive oil with the vinegar, truffle oil and honey. Add salt and pepper, taste, adjust. Toss with the arrugula leaves. ** this is a delicious salad in it's own right by the way **
  3. Grill the burgers to your preferred doneness - I actually prefer mine a bit on the done side, which I know to be frowned upon in some parts but whatever. Cook them the way you like them.
  4. At the last flip, top each patty with sliced pecorino and get it all melty on the burger. Toast the buns on the cooler part of the grill as well - this happens fast with soft rolls so be careful!
  5. Assemble your burgers - bottom bun, cheesy patty, sliced tomato, arrugula salad, top bun. Enjoy - a glass of brunello wouldn't be a bad thing!
  6. ** Note to gardeners - pictured is a sweet tangerine tomato - possibly the best tomato I have ever eaten. It is an heirloom hybrid from Burpee, I start several of these plants every year ... they are amazing! **

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I work in databases by day, but creativity is my outlet. Food - imagining it, making it, sharing it. And art, I come from a family of artists and have been collaging in my garage studio. You can see my work on Etsy in my shop AbbiesGarage