I had a plan going into this month of Cookout Themed dishes. The plan was to have everything made well in advance. The plan was to be organized. Prepared. Ahead of schedule.
For the first few weeks, this worked. I had my cookout side dishes and main dishes made and photographed with time to spare and felt like a total superstar after managing to post five times each week.
Then week three hit. And I started working full time again. And I decided to bake 250 cookies to sell at a garage sale. And the plan turned into “take pictures at 7:45 as the last usable light slips away, stay up until midnight editing photos, and crank out a post the night before somewhere between removing cookies to a cooling rack and scooping out another tray of dough.”
Prior to last week, I had only made one of the burgers you see mentioned here this week. Which means that last week, we ate a whole lotta burgers. I ate burgers for lunch, for dinner, for snacks. I ate them on salad greens, on a bun, on toasted bread, in a pita. There were burgers everywhere.
You’d think I would never want to see a burger again. Never ever ever.
But today I ate the last of these Italian Sausage Caprese Burgers as a leftover at work, and I was honestly a little sad to see them go.
You see, we weren’t just stuffing our faces with the classic burger every day. Amazing as they are, I would get tired of that. But we actually had a really nice mix of the classic burger, the spicy buffalo chicken burger, a veggie burger (my arteries are thanking me for those!), and these simply dressed Caprese Burgers.
All of the burgers from the week were different enough that I didn’t hate eating a burger every night for dinner. In fact, it was really fun to see what kinds of combinations and flavors we could tease out of the humble burger.
I totally did not expect to love this combination as much as I did, which is somewhat ridiculous because I adore anything that includes fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese.
But I thought the burger might overshadow the delicate flavors of the basil or the sweet balsamic glaze might make the whole thing super weird and inedible.
In the end, none of that was true. The burgers turned out perfect. The Italian sausage gave the burgers tons of flavor, but didn’t overwhelm the mild flavor of the mozzarella or the basil. Of course, these are caprese burgers so they had to have a big, thick slice of juicy tomato. The whole thing is pulled together by a sweet, tangy balsamic glaze. It’s a delightful and surprisingly addicting combination of two iconic summer meals.
For these, I recommend ditching the bun and choosing thick slices of Italian bread instead. I brushed mine with olive oil then baked them in the oven until browned and crispy. They held their own against the juicy burger, and added a nice texture reminiscent of crostini.
This really is a stunning burger, and thankfully its taste lived up to its good looks.
Lord knows I couldn’t have eaten one more burger.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ lb. Italian sausage
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 5 thick slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 bunch basil (you’ll want a couple leaves for each burger)
- 5 thick slices of tomato
- Balsamic Glaze (you can buy it at the store or make your own using this recipe )
- 10 thick slices French or Italian bread
- ¼-1/3 cup olive oil
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together beef, sausage, salt, and vinegar. Shape into 5-6 patties and use your thumb to create a small well in the center of each one.
- Place patties directly on the hottest part of the grill and grill uncovered for 5-6 minutes or until juices begin to appear at the top of the burger. Flip burgers and cook an additional 4-5 minutes on the opposite side. Add cheese slices during the last few minutes of grilling. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the bread, use a pastry brush to brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and crisped.
- For serving, stack burgers, tomato, and basil leaves on a slice of bread. Drizzle with balsamic glaze then finish with the second slice of bread.
- *Note: I linked to the full balsamic recipe above, but here’s the short version. Heat a bottle of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When it starts to boil, sprinkle in a Tablespoon of sugar. Continue to cook, whisking often, until mixture is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy.