Hot Sausage Burgers with Broccoli Rabe and Provolone

Serve with Fennel and Pepper Salad and Strawberry Lemonade.


  • 1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds coarsely ground pork (ask the butcher to do this)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (1/3 palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (2/3 palmful)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel, fennel pollen or 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage (1/3 palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion (1/3 palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (1/3 palmful)
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bundle broccoli rabe, tough ends discarded
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • A few grates nutmeg
  • 4 thick deli slices sharp provolone cheese
  • 4 ciabatta rolls or other crusty rolls, split
  • Store-bought olive oil and rosemary or herb flavored fancy potato chips


In a large bowl, combine the pork, red pepper flakes, paprika, fennel, sage, onion, garlic and salt, to taste. Form the meat into four patties, put on a plate and coat with a drizzle of EVOO.

Heat a small pot over medium-low heat and add the brown sugar, Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce and black pepper, to taste. Simmer until the mixture becomes a thick steak sauce consistency, about 15 minutes.

Add a couple inches of water to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then salt the water and add the broccoli rabe. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a cutting board and chop it into 2-inch pieces. Set aside. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon EVOO. Stir in the chopped garlic and the broccoli rabe. Sauté for 2 minutes, then season with a few grates of nutmeg, to taste.

Heat a drizzle of EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Top the patties with a slice of provolone during the last minute of cook time and tent with foil to melt.

Divide the broccoli rabe on the bottoms of the rolls and top with the cheesy sausage patties. Slather some of the warm sauce on the roll tops and cover the burgers. Serve the burgers on individual plates with a few chips alongside.

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