Brad’s Corner: Wood-Fired Pizza/Burger
It’s funny how ideas come together. About a year ago, I came up with the idea to cook up a burger patty and wrap it in a pizza dough and throw it in the oven. I love burgers and I love pizza. Why not? I’d have a fresh baked bun literally wrapped around my burger. It turned out to be more of a puff ball of dough that blew up around the burger patty inside. It was good, but it was a knife and fork operation. I filed it under “ideas to follow up on” somewhere in the back of my mind.
A few weeks ago I had a situation arise. “Hunger” and “Lunch” came knocking at the door. I had a leftover cheese steak sandwich in the fridge. The bread it was on was soggy and useless, but the cheese steak was certainly worth saving. As fate would have it, I also had a pizza dough that I cooked off into a small loaf in the fridge a couple days before and decided to use that to eat my cheese steak. I cut the loaf in half and hollowed it out a bit, kind of like a pita pocket, threw it in the oven broiler to toast it up a bit and heated up the cheese steak on the stove. I stuffed each pizza dough half with the cheese steak and some additional sauteéd jalapeños onions and mushrooms. That was great – hot fresh bun, great left over rescue!
What hit me as I was enjoying the warm crusty pizza bread with the cheesy hotness of the cheese steak, was that I had just realized how to make that killer pizza bun burger! In my mind I pictured everything about the burger, including the bun would be done right in the wood-fired oven.
A great burger with a purposely baked hot bun right out of the oven? Why aren’t we seeing more of this? A great sandwich is all about great bread — just as a next level pizza is about a great crust. Maybe this is why we love pizza so much? It’s fresh baked and served right out of the oven. Perhaps the sandwich world needs to be shaken up a bit. Why aren’t we getting our gourmet sandwiches served on fresh baked bread right out of the oven?
The next day…
While the fire was getting going in my Primavera oven, I decided to sauté up some jalapeños that are growing in the yard. I had an onion on the counter and sliced up a bit of that, really thin, just like the jalapeños. I added a couple of cloves of sliced garlic as well. Drizzled it all with some olive oil and a threw on some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Into the oven in a cast iron pan. When it came out, I added some more olive oil to make sure to have enough remaining spicy seasoned olive oil for drizzling and then, for some reason, I thought I would add some rice wine vinegar to “pickle” it up. Perfect for a burger! *NOTE: I went crazy with this fresh fire roasted pickled chili pepper idea and you can find a link to a recipe here – *Link
Now, on to the burger…
How about something basic? I knew I had some good white coastal cheddar and there’s nothing better than a plain cheeseburger, right? Unless you have bacon. I didn’t, but I had something better, it turns out. I have some amazing La Quercia Prosciutto left over from the Forno Bravo Expo. I got excited here. I realized I was about to make my first official wood-fired pizza bun burger, and it was coming together with so much more influence from pizza ingredients than I originally thought. I wasn’t making just a bacon cheeseburger — it was turning out to be an artisan-style burger with prosciutto, and a pizza dough for the bun! The best part was that this entire baby was going to be forged in my wood-fired oven! I’m still jazzed about that.
I think you’ll see that this turned out to be quite the experiment. You could do this in your home oven just as easily. Needless to say, I will be adding this to my menu repertoire.
Pickled Jalapeños with Onions and Garlic
– Jalapeños or Fresno Chilies
– Onion — I used a white onion, but would probably go just as well with a red onion.
– Fresh Garlic
– Olive Oil
– Salt and Pepper
– Vinegar — I used rice wine vinegar but other vinegars should work as well.
I used 2 jalapeño peppers and about 1/4 of a medium onion, thinly sliced.
Put it all in a cast iron pan and slide it into the hot oven (600-700 degrees F.). Keep an eye on it. They are sliced thin and you don’t want to burn them. Soften them, wood-fired oven style, which means soften but also have something to show for the effort of doing it in a really hot fire – – get a little char on things! Pull them out of the fire, place them in a bowl to cool, and drizzle with the vinegar. I sneak a little more salt on at this point also. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge, and served cool on the burger, or pizza, or eggs, or sandwiches — pretty much anything! Check out our Instagram feed: #pizzaquesting and you’ll see some video clips.
You’ll love this freshly pickled topping. It’s light, spicy, salty and picklely! What more does a body need?
– Beef baby!
I say that because I love a beef burger, but I also love turkey burgers, Ahi burgers, chicken burgers, and veggie burgers. But in this case, it’s all about the beef.
– White Cheddar, English Cheddar/Coastal Cheddar, or Cheddar Cheddar, or any cheese you feel like. Cheese is good for your soul. Use it!
– Thinly Sliced Prosciutto
– Pickled Jalapeños from above
– Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes *See below
Throw your burgers into a cast iron pan and slide it into the oven. Turn it a couple of times and try to guess when it’s time to lay the cheese on top and the prosciutto on top of that. Slide it back into the oven and melt the cheese and get the “bacon,” oh wait, I mean the PROSCIUTTO, crisped up a bit. It doesn’t take long. Cook the burger to your liking, rare, medium, well-done, whatever — it will take some practice to match the oven heat to the degree of doneness , but about 4 to 5 minutes is probably about right (even faster if the oven is really cranked up to 800 degrees or so).
– Pizza dough – Use your favorite recipe.
I suggest starting with a 140 gram dough ball (about 5 ounces). I spread the dough balls out, but not all the way like a pizza. I spread them about as wide as I thought they should be to puff into a bun. You can eyeball it and cut off any excess bread, after it bakes, if it’s too big. Let them proof for about an hour to gas up and spread a bit, and then bake them till done, about 3-5 minutes, depending on the oven heat.
My last bit of genius to finish this burger off happened as organically as the whole idea. I needed catsup, right?! It’s a burger, but wait, it’s a Wood-Fired Oven Prosciutto and Cheese Burger on a Pizza Dough Bun. No way I was putting catsup on that. Instead, I opened a can of Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and tore a whole tomato in half and placed it on the top bun. Oh yes!
I made two burgers and sat with my wife Shanna (who wasn’t “hungry”) and we gobbled them up! These were fantastic!
I’m going to play around with some other pizza dough ideas for the buns, so I’ll post an update in the comments section about it as I do. Also, since this wood-fired burger was made with all pizza ingredients, you can guess I will soon be delivering a wood-fired burger pizza as well. Should be a great pizza! It was a radical burger!!!
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Pizza Quest Info
Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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I’ve been experimenting with roasts & turkeys in my mobile oven but haven’t ventured into sandwich/burger land yet. I’m thinking about getting a cast iron griddle pan for steaks instead of a Tuscan grate.
I’m a huge fan of the cast iron pan for my wood fired oven. I have a growing set of Lodge Cast Iron pans and a couple of really old ones that I got from my father-in-law. They are the perfect tool. Send us pictures!