I don’t watch much TV in general, and we actually don’t even have cable at our house.  However, Food Network is my guilty pleasure whenever we visit my dad.  Some shows don’t interest me, but I do have a few favorites.  A few weeks ago when we were there, I happened to catch a marathon of the “Next Food Network Star” episodes.  I found it quite amusing for the most part, but one of the episodes that really interested me was one where all the contestants had to come up with a unique burger idea.  This version from the contestant Michael Proietti consists of a hamburger patty stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese, wrapped in pancetta and served on a garlic bread bun with basil ketchup.  WOW!  Ben and I were both drooling just watching the show, and I knew we had to try this.  It certainly did not disappoint.

The recipe shown on the Food Network website calls only for ground beef in the burger part of the patty – no salt, pepper or other seasoning.  Ick!  So, I decided to use my traditional favorite burger recipe for the meat portion and then use that as a jumping off point.  Now that I have had them, I know exactly what I will do next time to adjust the seasonings correctly and make the meat an Italian blend as well.  I will use a bit of balsamic vinegar in place of the Worcestershire sauce, cut down the black pepper and mix in some dried herbs to the meat mixture.  (I have reflected these changes in my recipe below).  Also, I will stuff a few whole basil leaves inside each patty along with the mozzarella, because I can never get enough fresh basil!  Not surprisingly, I could not find garlic bread buns anywhere in our grocery store, so I used some nice Kaiser rolls spread with garlic butter.  This garlic butter is a staple that I try to have in my fridge at all times, and it really put these burgers over the top.  I love a good classic burger, but this genius idea is definitely a new favorite!

  • Yield 3 burgers


For the patties:
1 lb. ground sirloin
2 tbsp. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. black pepper
1-2 dashes of balsamic vinegar
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
6 slices pancetta

For the basil ketchup:
½ cup ketchup
Handful fresh basil leaves (about ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic
½ tsp. red pepper flakes

For serving:
Kaiser rolls
Garlic butter
Fresh tomato slices
Green lettuce


  • 01

    To make the patties, combine the ground sirloin, onion, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl.  Mix well to thoroughly combine.  Divide the mixture into three equal portions; divide each of these further into halves so that you have 6 equal portions of the meat mixture.   Form each portion into a thin, round patty.  Place a slice of fresh mozzarella and a few basil leaves on top of three of the patties.  Lay the remaining patties on top of these, sandwiching the mozzarella in the center.  Pinch the edges of the patties together to form one large patty with the cheese in the center.  Wrap 2 slices of pancetta around each patty.  Preheat the grill.

  • 02

    While the grill is heating, make the basil ketchup.  Combine the ketchup, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined and finely chopped.  Set aside.

  • 03

    Cook the burgers on the preheated grill until cooked to your desired doneness and until the cheese inside has melted.  Just before the burgers are done cooking, split the Kaiser rolls in half.  Toast the buns and then spread with garlic butter.  Assemble the cooked burgers on the rolls with fresh lettuce, tomato, and basil ketchup as desired.