Spanish Burger with Pickled Shallots

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 45 min (includes cooling, chilling and pickling time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Spiced Butter:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon harissa 

2 cloves garlic, smashed 

Pickled Saffron Shallots:

3/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Pinch of saffron 

2 large shallots, thinly sliced 


1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon harissa 

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika 

2 piquillo peppers, patted dry, or 1 roasted red pepper 

1 anchovy 

Juice of 1/2 lemon 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crispy Prosciutto:

1/2 cup canola oil

4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma 


1 1/4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces (or use 1 1/2 pounds ground 80/20 beef chuck and omit the pork fat below)

4 ounces pork fat (omit if using the ground chuck)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 slices fontina cheese 

4 soft sesame seed buns, lightly toasted 

Arugula, for topping


  1. For the spiced butter: Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the harissa and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.
  2. For the pickled saffron shallots: Bring the vinegar, sugar, salt and saffron to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat; remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Put the shallots in a small bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  3. For the aioli: Combine the mayonnaise, harissa, smoked paprika, piquillo peppers, anchovy and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. For the crispy prosciutto: Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add one slice of the prosciutto at a time to the pan and cook until just crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. For the burgers: Combine the chuck and fat in a meat grinder and grind coarsely into a large bowl (or put the 80/20 beef into a large bowl). Mix in some salt and pepper. Divide the meat into 4 equal patties.
  6. Heat a cast-iron pan over high heat until smoking. Add the canola oil and burgers and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and a crust has formed, about 4 minutes. Flip over and begin brushing and basting with the spiced butter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the meat is cooked to medium, another 4 minutes. Top the burgers with the fontina, add a little water to the pan, cover quickly and cook until the cheese is completely melted, about 1 minute.
  7. Spread some aioli on the top and bottom buns. Place a burger on each bottom bun, top with some of the pickled shallots, followed by a slice of crispy prosciutto and some arugula. Add the top buns and serve. 

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