Inspired by the famous Roman amatriciana sauce, a 6-ounce juicy patty of beef is topped with a spicy tomato-onion jam, crisped bacon, and a Pecorino Romano cheese crisp.
Why this recipe works:
- Using 80-precent lean ground beef guarantees juicy, flavorful burgers.
- Handling the ground beef as little as possible and only seasoning the exterior creates a patty with a perfect hamburger texture that isn't tight like meatloaf.
- Deconstructing a classic amatriciana sauce and handling the ingredients differently creates a variety of textures from crunchy and crisp to moist.
Note:: This recipe makes more sauce than you will need for the burgers, but it's worth having some extra to use on pasta or serve as a condiment with roast chicken, pork, or fish. Refrigerate extra sauce in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- 4 thick-cut slices bacon, halved
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Generous pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (4 1/2 inch wide) patties
- 8 pieces focaccia bread, about 4-inches square each, warmed
Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with silpat. In a large wide pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat, turning, until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Add onions and garlic to rendered bacon fat in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, crushing tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until only small chunks remain. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened to a spoonable, ketchup-like consistency, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Meanwhile, sprinkle Pecorino Romano in four 5-inch rounds on silpat and bake until lightly browned and melted, about 10 minutes. Let cheese crisps cool until crisp.
When ready to serve, season burger patties generously with salt and pepper and cook burgers to desired doneness on a hot grill or in a skillet on the stovetop, 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Place 4 pieces of focaccia on a work surface and set burger patties on top. Top patties with tomato-onion jam, followed by bacon, and cheese crisps. Close sandwiches with remaining focaccia and serve right away.