Loose Pepperoni Pizza Burgers

One of my favorite things to have in the refrigerator is leftover spaghetti sauce. I don’t know about you, but when I make homemade spaghetti sauce, I make a large pot. I figure if I’m going to go to the trouble of making it, why not make a lot of it. It doesn’t take any more time to make eight quarts than it does to make two.

Besides the obvious of using leftover sauce to serve spaghetti more than once or freezing the sauce for when you don’t have the time to make homemade sauce and jarred is just not going to cut it, I like to use it for various sandwich-style meals. One such option would be pizza burgers.

A couple of times a year I combined ground beef, ground pork and Italian sausage (out of the casing) and made very rich patties to toss on the grill. The two drawbacks I found with this, was that the burgers were usually too messy to be eaten “in-hand” and Grace complained that the meat was so rich, she couldn’t eat more than ½ a burger. Being too rich isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but honestly I found it cumbersome to eat a burger dripping with spaghetti sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. For this reason, I only made this dish a few times a year.

In the interest of trying to overcome the messiness and richness of a traditional pizza burger, I decided to make a Loose Pizza Burger with homemade italian sausage. Loose Coney burgers are a favorite around here, and being that I serve them on hot dog or sub buns rather than hamburger buns, they are as neat as a loose burger can be. Additionally, using my own Italian sausage which we have not found to be overly rich as well using all ground beef rather than a combination of ground beef and pork, helped to tone down this meal and make it more enjoyable. If you don’t have time to make your own sausage, store-bought would work, I just use my own because of personal preference.

Homemade Italian sausage is super quick and easy to make, and has become a staple in my freezer. Every time I grind pork butts to stock the freezer with ground pork, I always set a few pounds aside to make Italian sausage. But even when I find myself out of it, it takes just a few minutes to throw it together.

Here is my recipe for Italian Sausage. All measurements are per pound of ground pork.

  • 1 tablespoon red wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/16 teaspoon dried thyme
  • If you like your Italian sausage spicy you can add 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper and/or 1 tsp. cayenne pepper or more for taste

Then you just mix all of this together with one pound of ground pork. To get the optimal flavor from this, allow it to sit 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator, but I have used it immediately and still found it quite flavorful. Yes, I’m sure you’ve probably noticed I didn’t add the traditional fennel. Well, we don’t like it. But if you are set on having fennel in your Italian sausage, just add 1/4 ground fennel seed and you should be good to go.

With my Italian sausage prepared, making loose pizza burgers is a snap. They’re a great use for leftover spaghetti sauce and this gets me out of the kitchen fast, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Loose Pepperoni Pizze Burgers

  • Servings: Serves 4 -6 people
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ Pound Italian Sausage (not in casings)
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 Ounces Pepperoni, diced
  • 12 Ounces Sliced Motzarella Cheese, cut in half
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 8 – 12 Hot Dog or Sub Buns
  • 1 Stick Softened Butter
  • Garlic Salt
  • Spaghetti sauce

Directions

  1. Combine ground beef, Italian sausage, and Italian seasoning in fry pan.
  2. Cook until crumbly. Drain fat.
  3. Return pan to stove, turning heat to low. Add diced pepperoni slices and cover until ready to use.
  4. Heat spaghetti sauce over medium heat.
  5. Heat griddle to medium.
  6. Butter buns (without separating tops from bottoms completely) and sprinkle with garlic salt. 
  7. Place butter side down on griddle and brown slightly.
  8. Assemble loose burgers: Place mozzarella cheese slices on bun. Spoon ½ cup or more of pepperoni/meat filling between bun layers. Top with another slice of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Place loose burgers in large casserole dish and place in 350 oven until cheese has melted.
  10. To Serve: Top each burger with spaghetti sauce and additional Parmesan cheese.

Cooking Note

If you prefer to make a traditional pizza burger patty, just form meat into a patty after step one and grill or fry. Then use hamburger buns instead of hot dog/sub buns.

Recipe by: Tilly Frueh, Simply Grateful Cooking at https://simplygratefulcooking.wordpress.com/ – 2017

Homemade Italian Sausage

  • Servings: 1 Pound of Sausage
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon red wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/16 teaspoon dried thyme
  • If you like your Italian sausage spicy you can add 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper and/or 1 tsp. cayenne pepper or more for taste

Directions

  1. Mix all of this together. To get the optimal flavor from this, allow it to sit 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator, but I have used it immediately and still found it quite flavorful.

Cooking Note

I usually make 2-3 pounds of this at a time and then separate it into 1/2 pound bags to store in the freezer. This way I can pull out as little or much as I want and not have any waste.

If you are set on having fennel in your Italian sausage, just add 1/4 ground fennel seed per pound of meat and you should be good to go.

Recipe by: Tilly Frueh, Simply Grateful Cooking at https://simplygratefulcooking.wordpress.com/ – 2017


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