Chicken Sausage Burgers with Balsamic Onion Barbecue Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus extra for liberal drizzling
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seed, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes – go heavier for extra spicy
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary (4-5 sprigs), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated with a Microplane or the small side of a box grater
  • A couple generous handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
  • 1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 endive, chopped
  • 1 cup arugula leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 radicchio, chopped
  • 4 crusty rolls, split, toasted and drizzled with EVOO or buttered


Pre-heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high.

Place 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a pot over medium-high heat. If you’re cooking outside, you can cook over the grill flames. Add the pancetta to the pot and crisp it up, 3-4 minutes, then add the onions to the pot and season them with salt and pepper. Go heavy on that pepper – the black pepper will really balance out the sweetness of your sauce later on. Add the bay leaf to the pot.

While the onions cook, place the ground chicken in a bowl and add fennel seed, red pepper flakes, allspice, orange zest, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and cheese. Mix the meat with seasonings and form four large patties. Make a shallow dent in each patty at the center of it to prevent the burger from bulging up as it cooks. Wash up and drizzle the patties liberally with EVOO. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side.

When the onions are very soft and begin to caramelize, remove the bay leaf and add the Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey or sugar and orange juice. Let the sauce thicken up and sweeten up for 6-7 minutes until the liquids are syrupy. Adjust the black pepper level to your taste. 

Mix the chopped endive, shredded arugula and chopped radicchio together. Pile the chopped lettuces on the bun bottoms and top with burgers and lots of onion barbecue sauce. Set bun tops in place and serve.

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