Giardiniera Is The Main Character For Chicago-Style Italian Burgers

Burgers are undoubtedly the main character at backyard barbecues. But while you could go with the same old toppings of ketchup, lettuce, and tomato this summer, why not switch it up to something a little more interesting? While there's plenty of inspiration to draw from different types of burgers around the world, one U.S. city in particular covets a potent topping that will become the star of the show once it lands on your patties. If you've ever been to Chicago, you know the city serves up plenty of delicious burgers — but this summer, we're using giardiniera to spruce up ours.

Chicago-style giardiniera is a mouth-watering mix of pickled veggies, which typically include carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, and celery. It's briny, garlicky, spicy, and just a tiny bit sweet. And when combined with a beef patty in a burger, you have the perfect formula to make a meal inspired by Italian beef sandwiches. The sharp taste of the giardiniera balances out the rich meat and buttery bun, and the crunchy texture perfectly offsets the softer consistency of these elements, as well as any melted cheese involved.

Deploy giardiniera as a topping, patty mix-in, or sauce ingredient

You have a couple of options for incorporating giardiniera into your burger. You can, of course, just pile it straight from the jar onto your burger — and in that case, you'll want to wedge it in between the cheese and top bun. But you can also mix the veggies into your patty so that the flavor (and texture) is evenly distributed throughout. To do so, make sure to thoroughly drain the giardiniera you're using so that your burgers aren't overly wet; and to make this process even easier, chop up the veggies a bit so that the smaller chunks mesh with the meat's consistency. Then all you have to do is mix about one third cup of the condiment with one pound of ground beef, and form into patties as normal. As an alternative, stir your chopped giardiniera (or some giardiniera relish) into mayo or aioli for a zingy burger sauce.

To make your meal truly Chicago-style, add some garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, and black pepper (aka the essential seasonings for an Italian beef sandwich) into your patty mix. Then top your burgers with provolone and pepperoncini (or sauteed green bell peppers). However, you can also dabble with mozzarella, sweet peppers, grilled onions, arugula, and banana peppers to add even more character to your giardiniera-infused burgers.