Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions – Food and Wine, April 2014

Chianti Burger

“Just take the picture so we can eat, please.”


You guys, if you don’t subscribe to Food and Wine, do yourselves a solid and pick up the April issue next time you’re in the check out line. Sometimes I flip through the magazine and go Oh, wouldn’t that be nice! Homemade cultured butter!  or Those sub sandwiches REALLY looked like tacos in the picture and now I’m sad they’re not! but never actually make anything. April’s issue, though, has so many accessible but delicious sounding recipes, from burgers to cookies to steak, that you can’t help but be inspired to make something.

Okay, unpaid advertisement over. The first thing I chose to make from this issue is the Chianti Burger with Caramelized Onions. The recipe originated from a winery in Italy that made this burger specifically to pair with their Chianti wine. There is no Chianti in the burger recipe, which was a little disappointing, but I managed to carry on.

This method for burgers was the best way I’ve ever cooked a hamburger, ever. You sear them on the stove for one minute on each side, then finish them off in a 475 degree oven, similar to how you cook steak. The recipe called for a skillet and a baking sheet, but I just used my cast iron skillet for the whole process. I cooked them for 6 minutes and got a perfect, juicy, medium. I will never do burgers on the range only again. No babysitting, no poking to see if it’s done, no sadness as your meat dries out, just juicy perfection.

You’ll be making your own ketchup for this recipe with red peppers and diced tomatoes. Although it takes a little bit of time, it’s fairly simple aside from the “Does this look THICK THICK or just Thick?” questions you will have as you find yourself more concerned with the texture of ketchup than you thought possible. Mine was more Thick than THICK THICK but it didn’t seem to make a difference. Do not skip adding the fresh grated ginger, as the ketchup is very sweet and needs the bite of the ginger to balance it out.

I was expecting a fairly decent burger but didn’t expect to be blown away. I was! Christopher, a man who orders solely bacon cheeseburgers at every fancy burger restaurant, no matter my judgey glances and attempts to shame him into branching out, said that this was not only the best burger he’d ever had, but if you offered him a bacon cheeseburger from his favorite burger place or this burger, he’d choose this burger.

Photo by Christina Holmes, Food and Wine

Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions

(Food and Wine, April 2014) – Recipe by Matteo Gambi

Serves 4

My Notes: 

  • I found the foccacia rolls at Trader Joes, but I imagine you could just as easily cut a large loaf into squares.
  • I used dried sage in place of fresh in the caramelized onions and it was fine.
  • It looks like way too many onions when you start caramelizing them and you will question everything. Do not do this. You will want to eat all of them on your burger at once.
  • I didn’t use young Pecorino cheese, just the Locatelli Pecorino Romano I already had. It melted well and added a nice sharpness.
  • The hour and a half time limit is very generous – that’s exactly how long it took me. If you caramelize the onions while making the ketchup and just keep them warm, you could shave some time off.
  • My vinegar and sugar did not have a medium amber caramel color, but a light caramel color and so many bubbles I was worried it would evaporate and leave me with nothing. I added the tomatoes at this point, and I don’t think an extra shade of amber would have made that much of a difference.
  • Next time I think I will add a little Chianti to the ketchup, just to see what happens. YOLO, guys.


  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 medium onions (1 pound), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced sage
  • Four 4-inch focaccia squares, split horizontally
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 4 slices of young Pecorino cheese (4 ounces)


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until a medium amber caramel forms, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. Strain the ketchup through a sieve. Stir in the ginger and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden, 15 minutes. Stir in the sage and keep warm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 475°. Heat a griddle. Lightly brush the griddle with oil and toast the focaccia on it until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the focaccia to plates.
  4. Gently shape the ground beef into four 1/2-inch-thick patties and season with salt and pepper. Griddle the burgers over high heat until browned, 1 minute per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and top each one with a slice of cheese. Bake for 5 minutes for medium-rare. Set the burgers on the focaccia and top with the onions and a dollop of the ketchup. Close the burgers and serve. 

Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken


(Photo by Gentl & Hyers for Bon Appétit)

Bon Appétit is a weird food magazine. I pick it up, read through it, and am generally uninspired. But if I see someone else making a recipe from their magazine, suddenly it looks magical and I must have it.

Case in point: this Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken. I didn’t give it a second glance in the magazine, but after the fellows over at The Bitten Word raved about it I found myself hunting for marjoram at Harris Teeter.

This recipe uses a lower oven temperature and a longer cooking time than traditional roasted chicken to resemble the tenderness of a rotisserie chicken. Weirdly, I had never roasted a chicken before so this was full of all kinds of firsts for me. Unfortunately, I missed the writing on the chicken packaging that said “No giblets or livers!” until after I had gone fishing around in the cavity while muttering “ew, ew, ew, ew.”

The slow cooking of the chicken really did yield a more tender bird than the traditional roast chicken. The lemon and garlic stuffing stands out in the finished product, and the potatoes that you scatter haphazardly about the chicken are browned and tender.

The recipe is simple. You crush fennel and red pepper together, add chopped herbs, and mix it with olive oil. After rubbing that all over the chicken, you stuff it with more herbs, a lemon, and a head of garlic. Although the time in the recipe says 3 hours for a 3-4 pound chicken, mine was well above the correct temperature after 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Roasted brussel sprouts pair very well with this recipe. I scattered about a pound of brussel sprouts in with the potatoes after an hour of cooking. To brown the vegetables a little more, when I pulled the chicken out to rest I left the vegetables in the oven for another ten minutes, and increased the oven temp to 400.

Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken and Potatoes

Bon Appetit (March 2014) – Recipe by Carla Lalli Music

Serves 4.

My Notes:

  • Is fresh marjoram a myth? I looked at Harris Teeter and Giant and couldn’t find it. I settled for oregano, which was fine.
  • I love that you can use a rimmed baking sheet for this, since I don’t own a roasting pan.
  • I managed to lose my kitchen twine and had to settle for purple embroidery floss to truss the legs. The chicken (Carl, I named him) looked like he was going to a fancy party.
  • The cooking time was 45 minutes less than stated on the recipe, so check the temperature of the chicken well before the cooking time is up.
  • I lost the cap to my spice/coffee grinder so just sort of smashed the fennel seeds and red pepper with the back of a spoon. I don’t think it was ideal. I found the cap to my spice grinder immediately upon putting the chicken in the oven.
  • Next time I will scatter extra cloves of garlic in with the potatoes since I really wanted to eat the cloves inside the chicken but I wasn’t sure if there was the food safety issue one has with turkey stuffing.


2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram; plus 4 sprigs, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme; plus 4 sprigs, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 3½–4 pound chicken
1 lemon, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, halved, or quartered if large


Preheat oven to 300°. Coarsely grind fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Combine spice mixture, chopped marjoram, chopped thyme, 1 Tbsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, and 3 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Stuff chicken with lemon, garlic, 2 marjoram sprigs, and 2 thyme sprigs. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. (Editor’s Note – OR EMBROIDERY FLOSS FOR MAXIMUM FANCINESS).

Toss potatoes with remaining 3 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Push potatoes to edges of baking sheet and scatter remaining 2 marjoram and 2 thyme sprigs in center; place chicken on herbs. Roast, turning potatoes and basting chicken every hour, until skin is browned, meat is extremely tender, and potatoes are golden brown and very soft, about 3 hours. Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving.