For the sauce:
- 1 small yellow onion, grated into a bowl to catch juices
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces)
- 1 sprig fresh oregano or marjoram, finely chopped or 1 scant teaspoon dried
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- Salt and pepper
For the meatball burgers:
- 4 slices good-quality white or Italian bread, crusts removed
- 1-1 1/2 cups whole milk, for soaking bread
- 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed (1/3 palmful)
- 1 teaspoon ground sage (1/3 palmful)
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion (1/3 palmful)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (2 pinches)
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a handful)
- 1/4 cup grated Romano (a handful)
- About 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 pound ball fresh mozzarella cheese or 1/2 pound deli-sliced mild provolone cheese
- 6 Italian rolls with sesame seeds, split and lightly toasted
- Torn basil, for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a food processor and puree to smooth. Place in a saucepot and gently simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to thicken and combine the flavors.
Soak the bread in the milk.
Place the meats in a bowl and add the seasonings, garlic, parsley, eggs, cheeses and EVOO, two turns of the bowl. Squeeze the excess liquid from the bread and crumble as you add it to meat. Combine the meatball mixture and form six patties. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes to cook through.
Switch on the broiler when you remove the burgers from the oven. Place a rack at the center of the oven.
Arrange the toasted bun bottoms on a baking sheet. Turn the burgers in the sauce and set them on the bun bottoms. Top with the sliced mozzarella or provolone and melt to bubbly under the broiler. Top with torn basil and any remaining sauce and set the bun tops in place.