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Fancy Hillbilly Italian Burger with Marinara Mayo Sauce

My family loves Italian food especially my husband. One day we were all trying to decide what to have for supper. I informed everyone that I didn't care what we had but it had to include hamburger. I had just gotten home from a 12 hour day at the hospital and did not feel like going to the market and cook for a few hours. My husband wanted Italian and everyone else wanted burgers. So I tried to pleased them all and came up with the Hillbilly Italian burger. I have been making it since. This is a fast and cheap meal. I even fix the burgers one night and served them on garlic bread. Hmmmm Hmmmm GOOD!!


1/2 cup marinara sauce + 1/2 cup mayonnaise + 1 and 1/2 pounds of roughly ground sirloin + 1/2 pound of smoked fatty bacon, ground + 1 garlic clove, minced + 1 teaspoon dried basil + Salt and pepper to taste + 1 large egg, beaten + 1 and 1/2 cups ground buttered bread crumbs + 6 ( quarter inch) slices of fresh mozzarella cheese + 1 large red onion, sliced in 1/4 inch slices + 3 large portabella mushrooms, stemmed + 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced in half + 1/3 cup of Colavita Extra Virgin Olive oil (save a small amount of olive oil to sprinkle on the grilled veggies) + 6 (4 and 1/2-inch) soft Kaiser Rolls, split + 6 romaine lettuce leaves + 2-3 tablespoons oil, for brushing on the grill rack


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

In a small bowl combine the marinara sauce and mayonnaise. Cover and keep cool until ready to use.

In a large bowl toss together lightly the hamburger, bacon, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Do not over mix this will compact the meat. Divide into 6 equal portions and form burgers into 3/4 –inch thick patties. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Pour beaten egg in a small shallow bowl. Place bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl. Take each piece of mozzarella cheese and dip in beaten egg then cover with bread crumbs. Set breaded cheese on platter, cover and keep cool until ready to use.

Lightly brush onions, mushrooms, and peppers with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Place on platter and set aside until ready to use.

Brush the grill rack with oil. Place mushrooms open side down on grill. Cook mushrooms 5 minutes before turning. Once you turn the mushrooms place hamburger patties on the rack and grill for 5 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until medium doneness, about 5 minutes. Remove patties and mushrooms at the same time.

Meanwhile grill onions and peppers on all sides getting nice grill marks when turning. Do not over cook. These vegetables should still have a crunch.

During last few minutes of grilling, lightly brush the inside of buns with olive oil. Place brushed side down and lightly toast.

Turn grill down to medium and place breaded mozzarella cheese slices on grill and cook until crumb coating is brown and cheese is heated without falling apart. Place directly on burger from grill.

Slice peppers and mushrooms in 1/4 –inch slices. Separate the onion slices into single rings. Place vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with a small amount of olive oil.

To assemble burgers: spread a generous amount of the marinara mayonnaise sauce over the top and bottom of each bun. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, mozzarella slice, pepper slices, onion rings, and mushroom slices. Add the roll tops and serve. (My kids like for me to spoon additional marinara mayo sauce on the burger before adding the top of the roll. They like the way the sauce oozes out the sides when they bite into the burger).

Makes 6 burgers


Helpful tips:
Order of cooking the ingredients on the grill are as follows: Put mushrooms on a few minutes before the patties. Add patties and cook a few minutes before adding the remaining vegetables. Right before the onions and peppers are finished cooking, add the buns and mozzarella cheese. All ingredients should come off the grill about the same time except for the mozzarella. The cheese should be placed on the burger directly from the grill. It is ok if the burgers come off before the veggies. I like to let them sit for a few minutes before serving. This makes for a juicer burger.