Project Description

The Volpi Burger

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4 Servings
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Difficulty Level
Active Prep
Active Prep
30 min
Total Time
Total Time
45 minutes

Burger fans unite. If you are in the camp of juicy burgers piled high with toppings, pay attention. This burger is one you will want to sink your teeth into. Made with high-quality ground beef (this is the definitive ingredient in a burger, so use the best you can get), we mix in pancetta for extra flavor. Because we can. And we top it with crispy fried mortadella. Because why not? Then we add zippy pickled onions and radishes, creamy guacamole and the usual suspects of tomatoes, lettuce and jalapeños. Because that’s just how we are. Deliciousness awaits, and it might get a little messy.

We use a skillet to cook the burgers, but feel free to take these outside to the grill if the weather permits. They work either way.


for the spicy pickled red onions and radishes

Bring the vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Return to a boil, then remove pan from heat and let cool. Transfer to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

for the burger

Crumble the beef into a wide shallow bowl (or mixing bowl) and spread out. Sprinkle the pancetta over the beef and mix gently with your hands, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Form 4 equal patties, each 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick, and create a depression in the center of each patty. Set aside on a plate.

Heat a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat until smoking. Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan. Put the burgers in the pan, depression side up and cook until a brown crust develops, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes for medium-rare, or to your desired doneness.

Put a burger on each bottom bun and top with a slice of crisp mortadella, 2 tablespoons guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, pickled red onions and radishes. Close the burgers and serve.


spicy pickled red onions and radishes

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced into rounds/coins
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, optional


  • 1½ pounds lean ground sirloin
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 4 potato buns, split and lightly toasted
  • 8 small slices or 4 large slices mortadella (2½ ounces), cooked until crisp on both sides (6 minutes on medium heat
  • 1/2 cup store-bought guacamole or our recipe
  • lettuce leaves
  • ripe tomato slices
  • fresh jalapeño slices

special equipment

  • 12-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet; or outdoor grill


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