Chicago chef Chris Gawronski is no stranger to ‘nduja, that delicious fermented spreadable sausage that’s spicing up everything from salad dressings to burgers around the country. Melted, smeared, fried, layered or smudged, there are no two ways about it: This once-obscure ingredient is a hot topic. At his restaurants, Acanto and the Gage, Gawronski serves traditional favorites but adds his own touches to every dish.
Chef Gawronski mashes it in with the yolk filling for deviled eggs and renders it into a vinaigrette for pan-seared prawns. He also smears a thick layer atop his new specialty burger, “the Doojie” — along with tomato jam, smoked mozzarella and bagna cauda aioli — and serves house-made ‘nduja chips on the side.
“We have been making ‘nduja in house since the restaurant opened, and love its versatility. One week we made too large a batch and were sitting on quite a lot of sausage,” says the chef. “Oddly enough, my chef de cuisine was assigned with making family meal on a Sunday after an exceptionally busy Saturday. Needless to say, we had nothing left in the coolers but the ‘nduja and some ground beef for bolognese that we didn’t need. He took those two ingredients, some onions and some eggs, and proceeded to make the best damn meatloaf I have ever had. We had just been assigned to the Hamburger Hop for Chicago Gourmet earlier that week. One bite of that meatloaf and it was settled: We were going to turn this into a burger.”
- 1 1/2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 10 ounces 'nduja
- 4 potato rolls, toasted
- 4 ounces smoked mozzarella, sliced
Bagna cauda aioli
- 1/2 cup Spanish onions, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 12 marinated white anchovies, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
For the aioli
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, sweat onions and garlic with butter and olive oil, cooking until golden brown. Add white and brown anchovies and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Add parsley and oregano, and set aside. In a food processor, whip the egg yolks until frothy. Slowly drizzle the anchovy mixture into the whipped egg yolks in the food processor. Mix until smooth and set aside. Can be made one day in advance; keep refrigerated.
For the tomato jam
Combine mustard seeds, white balsamic vinegar and champagne vinegar in a small pot over medium heat.
Cook until liquids are reduced by half, then add tomatoes, honey and sugar. Cook until syrupy, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in basil and let cool.
For the burger
Mix ground beef and 8 ounces ‘nduja.
Form four 8-ounce patties, add 2 slices of smoked mozzarella to each patty and grill to desired temperature.
While the patties cook, toast potato roll buns on the grill and render the remaining 2 ounces ‘nduja in a medium pot over medium heat.
Once buns are toasted, spread aioli on the bottom bun and tomato jam on the top bun. Add burger, garnish with rendered ‘nduja and serve.