Beef and Pork Burgers Stuffed with Pesto-Cheese Filling

One of the gifts I like to bestow on a loved one is to make a requested favorite dish or meal for their birthday dinner, and recently, one of my beloved nieces wanted lasagna.  I found a really good lasagna recipe on Epicurious, which had a terrific herb and cheese filling.  Of course I modified the recipe a bit, adding pesto to the filling, and also expanded the portions to ensure we could send care packages home with the birthday girl and our other guests.  There was some of the filling left over, so of course I had to develop a recipe to use it in…and thus, the Beef and Pork Burgers Stuffed with Pesto-Cheese Filling.

These burgers are sultry and rich, and need no added cheese.  To make them even more decadent, spread some of the leftover pesto-cheese filling on the buns.  You can also serve them with some of the pesto.  Yum!

Beef and Pork Burgers Stuffed with Pesto-Cheese Filling (serves 4-6, depending on your appetites)

Ingredients

Burger Mixture

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 c. minced onions
  • 3 lg cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra to shake on patties
  • 1 tsps ground pepper, plus extra to shake on patties
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus extra to shake on patties

Filling

  • 1 cup ricotta or cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, romano, or other hard cheese
  • 1/4 already-prepared pesto
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Serve with…

  • Buns of your choice
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Red onion slices
  • Spinach or arugula
  • Leftover cheese spread and your choice of condiments (Dijon mustard is especially good with these burgers)

Cooking Instructions

Combine ground beef and pork in a medium bowl, then add the onions, garlic and spices.  Mix well with your hands.  Form the mixture into 6-8 loosely packed balls, depending on whether you want large or medium patties.

Combine the ricotta (or cream cheese) with the shredded cheese, pesto, salt and pepper, stirring well to ensure that it is completely blended.

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper.  To fill the patties, take each one and make a deep well in it, then add a heaping tablespoon of the filling.  Carefully stretch and pull the patty to form it all the way around the filling, completely sealing it in the ball, then gently pat it into a patty shape on the cookie sheet.  After filling all of the patties, sprinkle them on each side with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a few more red pepper flakes.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least a half hour while you are heating up the gas or charcoal grill.

Grill 5 or more minutes on each side until the patties reach your desired level of done-ness, remembering that they include ground pork and should be at least medium.  The Grill-Meister gets a nice sear on each side and then moves the burgers out of the direct flame to let them reach medium.

Serve with your choice of buns, garnishes and condiments.

IMG_0278
A big dollop of the filling will make this burger very juicy
Burgers Ready to Grill.JPG
Carefully flatten the burgers into the traditional patty, then sprinkle with more salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
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The Grill-Meister carefully manages the grilling so the patties reach just the right level of done-ness
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The finished product is a whopping big, beautiful burger; the pesto-cheese filling is a juicy surprise as you make it to the middle of the burger

You can pre-make these patties and freeze them ahead of a road trip or beach day, letting them thaw in the cooler as you travel to your destination.  They are wonderful when grilled on charcoal and eaten beside the pool or with the sand between your toes.

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