Most children are finicky eaters and my sister and I were no exception. I remember many nights, of what seemed like torture, where our parents would try to coerce us to eat. This dish is really my mother’s invention that came out of shear desperation because she couldn’t get us to eat meat. We called them pizza burgers – a cross between hamburgers and pizza. Two of our favorite foods rolled up in one. They were a big hit and still are. Pizza burgers or Hamburgers alla Pizzaiola are ground beef patties topped with tomato sauce, oregano, grated cheese, and mozzarella, and served on a hamburger bun. To save on time and effort, you can use jarred marinara sauce instead of making it from scratch.
PIZZA STYLE HAMBURGERS – HAMBURGERS ALLA PIZZAIOLO
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Makes 6 servings.
For the Sauce (or 2 cups prepared marinara sauce):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
For the Burgers:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup seasoned Italian or plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Assembly:
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1. MAKE THE SAUCE: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, water, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes.
2. MAKE THE BURGERS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, in a small skillet, over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Using your hands, combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, water, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Shape meat mixture into 6 patties.
Heat remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, fry patties approximately 2 minutes on each side until browned. Transfer to a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish.
3. BAKE THE PIZZA BURGERS: Spoon sauce over each of the burgers. Sprinkle the top of the burgers with oregano, grated cheese, and mozzarella. Bake approximately 10 minutes, until mozzarella cheese is melted.