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Top Off Your Burgers

Let guests build their own burgers with these scrumptious toppings

Fine Cooking Issue 45
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A juicy grilled backyard burger is deliciously emblematic of summer. Try these topping ideas to make a burger even better. Each topping yields enough to cover four burgers.

Prosciutto & Arugula
Top each burger with one slice of folded prosciutto, a pinch of ground black pepper, and an arugula leaf.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Goat Cheese
Grill or roast a red bell pepper; seal in a bag to steam. Combine 1 tsp. aged sherry vinegar, 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1/8 tsp. crushed red chile flakes. Peel and seed the pepper, separate the lobes at their natural clefts (or cut into wide strips), toss in the marinade, and let sit for about 20 minutes. Top each burger with a slice or two of the marinated pepper pieces and a slice of goat cheese.

Bacon & Cheese
Brown 8 slices good-quality bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Top each burger with a thin slice of Vermont Cheddar and 2 bacon strips; move the burger to a cooler part of the grill and cover briefly so the cheese begins to melt.

Blue Cheese & Walnut
Mince 1 clove garlic with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a pinch of black pepper; add 1 Tbs. chopped walnuts. Crumble 2 to 3 oz. blue cheese; mash in the garlic and nuts until well blended. Smear each warm burger with a generous dollop.

Marinated Onion
Thinly slice a small red onion  into rings. Add 2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar, 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp. coarse salt, 1 tsp. sugar, and a pinch red chile flakes; toss to blend. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Grilled Portabella
Brush a large portabella mushroom with olive oil. Grill over a medium fire, turning, until the stem and cap are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes; slice thinly. Drizzle the slices with extra-virgin olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
Chop eight pieces of oil-packed or reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes; drain well. Combine with 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. red-wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper,  and a few chopped fresh basil leaves.  (If you’re using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, use less olive oil.)


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