It’s pretty difficult to go through summer without at least one cookout with sizzling burgers hot from the grill. There’s nothing wrong with the all-American version and all the fixings, but I am very partial to these pared-down, Spanish-inspired burgers. Romesco, a roasted red pepper pesto, goes perfectly with the beef, and sharp Manchego cheese may just usurp Cheddar as the ultimate cheeseburger topping. Add sliced tomatoes and lettuce if you wish, but frankly, less is more here to appreciate the flavors better.
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed under a knife and peeled
- ¼ cup sliced natural almonds
- 2 red bell peppers, grilled, skins and seeds removed (see page 66)
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably smoked paprika, such as pimentón de la Vera
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds ground round beef (85% lean)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ounces Manchego cheese, thinly sliced
- 4 sourdough sandwich buns (pull out some of the inner crumb if the buns are too thick)
1. Build a fire for banked grilling in an outdoor grill. If a charcoal grill, let the coals burn until they are covered with white ash. Spread out the mound of coals into a bank, with one side about two coals deep, and the other side of the slope with a scattering of single coals. For a gas grill, preheat the grill on high. Leave one side on high and turn the other side to low. In both cases, you will have two areas for cooking, one hot and the other cooler.
2. To make the romesco, with the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade to finely chop it. Add the almonds, red peppers, vinegar, paprika, and oregano. With the machine running, gradually add the oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl. (The romesco can be made up to 2 weeks ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
3. Working as gently and quickly as possible (overmixing compacts the meat and makes tough burgers), mix the ground round, salt, and pepper. Lightly form into 4 patties about 4 inches wide. Make an indentation, about 2 inches wide and ½ inch deep, in the center of each burger to help it keep its shape during grilling.
4. Lightly oil the cooking grate. Place the burgers on the hot area of the grill. Cover and cook, turning once, until the outside is seared with grill marks, about 2 minutes per side. Move the hamburgers to the cooler side of the grill and cover. Cook, turning once, until the hamburgers feel somewhat firm but not resistant when pressed in the center, about 4 minutes for medium-rare. If using a meat thermometer, insert it horizontally through the side of the burger to reach the center; it should read 125°F. During the last 2 minutes, top each burger with the cheese, and place the buns on the grill to toast lightly and warm through.
5. Place a burger in each bun, top with a large dollop of romesco sauce, and serve immediately.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.