Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pizza Burgers

My Venture into my Past

When I was in high school, my first job was at a burger joint called Big D – the home of the best onion rings in the world. The owners kept their onion ring recipe a well guarded secret and I'm still trying to perfect a copycat version of it. As soon as I do, I'll be sure to post it. Even though it was nothing but a fast-food burger joint, I learned so much working there. I did well in school but it's amazing how much this job taught me about the real world and all of those important things in life that you can't learn in a classroom. I learned about money, working hard, working with others, working with others you do not like, making do when times are tough, the importance of working as a team…and a lot about cooking. I strongly believe those experiences helped to shape the person I would later become. That's why I think that kids today, who never worked in high school or college, have a very different work ethic than those who did.

Working in the exciting world of fast food was not always full of glamour and intrigue. After four hours of working in a hot kitchen, I smelled like a greasy hamburger after I got off work. There was a small, stray dog that always hung out near the restaurant. He was very friendly and always tried to sniff and lick my pants after I got off work. I think he thought of me as nothing but a big, walking pork chop in denim. I couldn't drive down the street with the windows up because the smell of my clothes was overwhelming. If I stopped at a convenience store after work, other customers would sniff the air and say "Do you smell cheeseburgers?" I'd walk into my bedroom and smell hamburgers from the dirty clothes I threw in the hamper from the previous day's work and instinctively wanted to say "Would you like fries with that?". To this day, the smell of a fast-food restaurant is a real put-off.

My burger-perfumed clothing was not the most embarrassing part of that job. The most mortifying thing was having to drive my family's big, 'ol station wagon – the Sherman-tank of family vehicles. And it wasn't one of those cool-looking, green ones with the luggage rack and the fake, wood paneling on the sides. It was yellow -- and not some ordinary yellow. It was painted from scraps at the bottom of a barrel where ugly paint was thrown to die. My father equipped the car with a glasspack muffler that, instead of quieting the car, only made it louder. When sitting at a stoplight, the car would idle and go "blub, blub, blub, blub, blub…" When I accelerated, the car would cough and gasp and then go "BLUB, BLUB, BLUB, BLUB, BLUB…" It was so embarrassing. You'd think he put that muffler on to warn people "HEY - LOOK OUT! A 17-year-old boy is at the wheel!". Wait. I'm beginning to wonder if he bought that muffler on purpose. Hmm.

Anyway, today's post plays homage to my fast-food days at Big D. They used to make the best Pizza Burgers. This recipe is pretty close to the way we used to make them. So all of you moms and dads out there – make your kid get a part-time job when they're in high school. Don't think of it as a job. Think of it as a valuable learning experience for when they get a real job later on. Enjoy – and happy reminiscing about YOUR first job!

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Pizza Burgers
(Printable Version)

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
4 to 6 TBSP of chopped onion, diced
Pizza sauce
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted

This is more of a method than a recipe. Don't get hung up on measurements. It is easy to halve or double depending on the number of people you are feeding.

In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the buns.

While the buns are toasting, cut the Italian sausage into four pieces. Flatten each piece into a patty about 1/4" thick.

When the buns are toasted, remove them from the skillet and add the sausage patties. Sauté until browned then flip. Sprinkle some onions on the top of each patty then add a couple of spoonfuls of pizza sauce to the center of each patty. Top with a good amount of both parmesan and mozzarella – trying to keep everything mounded in the center of the patties and away from the sides. As it heats, everything will spread to the edges. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and immediately cover. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until the sausage is fully cooked and the cheeses have melted. Serve on the toasted buns with your favorite chips.


  1. I love reading all of your recipes on Keep up the concocting!

  2. I was experimenting a few weeks ago and made something very similar to this! I mixed one lb of hamburger with one lb of italian sausage and it turned out awesome.
    I just discovered your blog today and I think it's great!


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