Spanish Burger with Pickled Shallots

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 5 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 burgers
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For the spiced butter: 

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tablespoon harissa (chile paste) 

2 cloves garlic, smashed

For the pickled saffron shallots:

3/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Kosher salt

Pinch of saffron

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

For the aioli:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon harissa (chile paste)

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 jarred piquillo peppers (or 1 roasted red pepper), patted dry

1 anchovy fillet

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the crispy prosciutto:

1/2 cup canola oil

4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma

For the burgers:

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

4 ounces pork fat (omit if using ground chuck)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 slices fontina cheese

4 soft sesame buns, lightly toasted

Baby arugula, for topping


  1. Make the spiced butter: Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the harissa and garlic and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.
  2. Make the pickled saffron shallots: Bring the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and the saffron to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat; remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. Put the shallots in a small bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over them, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  3. Make 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 at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Make the crispy prosciutto: Heat the canola oil in a small saute pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add 1 slice of the prosciutto at a time to the pan and cook until just crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Make the burgers: Combine the chuck and fat in a meat grinder and grind coarsely into a large bowl (or put the ground beef in 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 with the spiced butter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the meat is cooked to medium, 4 more 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.