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Sausage and Pepper Patty Melts

Italian sausage, removed from the casing, makes a delicious, moist burger, perfect for serving inside this tasty variation on the classic patty melt. The burgers are flavored with extra garlic, fresh basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, then topped with sautéed onion and bell pepper, sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella. Serve with a salad on the side and extra napkins!

Sausage and Pepper Patty Melts

Sausage and Pepper Patty Melts

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, removed from the casing (see notes)
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, divided (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 8 thick slices Italian bread
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, coarsely shredded
  • 4 slices fresh tomato

Preparation:
Add the sausage, garlic, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise, panko crumbs, basil, parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper (no salt) to a large bowl. Using your hands, combine gently, but thoroughly. Form into 4 thin, equal-sized patties, transfer to a plate and chill for 15 minutes.

While the burgers chill, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent and the peppers have softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the burgers to a plate and wipe out the pan.

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

Using about half of the grated mozzarella, scatter a portion on top of 4 slices of bread. Add a tomato slice to each, top with a burger, a portion of the pepper-onion mixture, and finish with the balance of the mozzarella. Add the second slice of bread.

Coat the top of each sandwich with some of the remaining mayonnaise. Heat the pan over medium heat and add two of the sandwiches, mayo side down. Cook until lightly toasted (2 to 3 minutes), compressing the sandwiches slightly with the back of a spatula as they cook. Coat the top slice of bread with mayonnaise, flip the sandwiches and continue cooking until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, about 3 minutes longer.

Place the finished sandwiches on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining two sandwiches in the same manner. Alternately, you can use 2 pans and cook all 4 sandwiches simultaneously. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe Notes:
You can use any variety of Italian sausage - pork, chicken or turkey. Our favorite is chicken sausage because of its lighter, tender texture.

Keep in mind that because you're starting with a meat product that's already been seasoned, you need very little salt in this recipe - just a little on the sautéed onions and peppers.

Using mayonnaise instead of butter: The exterior of the bread for these sandwiches is coated with mayonnaise to give them a golden, toasty exterior without the added richness of butter. We prefer this for a lot of grilled sandwiches - it's easier to work with and really does a great job toasting the bread.

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