Guess what. I’m in Italy!!
I know what you’re thinking. 1) Wait, what?! 2) WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE ME WITH YOU?! or 3) Umm…how the hell are you going to eat ANYTHING in the land of pizza, pasta, bread and cheese?
That was my first thought before going to Italy for the first time with a bunch of food “struggles”, or “Dana pre-total body shutdown” as my brother says, last year. I figured I could just do a lot of online research for restaurants where there would be mostly meat + veg options for me, and sadly sulk my way through the trip while my family totally gorged themselves. Totally not the case!! Traveling to Italy (as long as you’re prepared) is a godsend for celiacs and gluten-free friends. Sure, I did have my meat + veg a lot. But tons of restaurants have gluten-free options, many even have a designated gluten-free menu AND a separate set of cooking tools/utensils that they use to prepare your food. They take celiac seriously in Italy, and you don’t get that classic American waiter look that says “really? really. Another one saying they have a gluten allergy who probably just wants to lose weight.” RUDE, people. This is a REAL THING for some of us. If I get glutened, I’m bedridden for about a week. Fact. That happened this last spring from me unknowingly drinking ONE small sip of a drink that had a splash of beer IN IT. So that was fun. NOT.
So back to the lovely Italians and their astonishing concern for people who don’t/can’t eat gluten, for whatever reason. In my experience, the servers/managers/owners have come over to check on me and ensure I knew what was going in my food, and sometimes they have said they could make anything I wanted on the menu gluten-free. Including pizza, pasta, bread, desserts, you name it. And this isn’t uncommon over there either. Check out this gelato. Which MOST of it is gluten-free too, but they have it all labeled. Another fun fact: even though my stomach does somersaults for days if I eat dairy in the US, it’s totally fine in Europe if I have some. Typical.
In Italy, they know their Celiac disease and take it seriously. Gluten-free food is stocked in pharmacies, and kids are tested for Celiac at age 6. And here’s the kicker: “Citizens diagnosed with Celiac disease receive a monthly stipend to buy specialty gluten-free food. This amounts to roughly 140 euros per month, and the stipend becomes available starting at age 10. They also receive extra vacation time to prepare gluten-free food.” That quote is from Primal Palate’s post on their experiences and Eating Gluten Free In Italy, if you’re interested. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?! Like jeez, Americans didn’t even know about “gluten free” until about 5 years ago. Again, typical.
So since I’m over here, of course I figured I’d hit you with the most American recipe I could think of: BURGERS! (No, not apple pie. But that came as a close second thought). Fun fact: while I was living abroad in France, my host sisters were astonished to know I didn’t eat McDonalds burgers and fries every day. They legit thought all American families lived like the Simpsons. And no, they are not sheltered people. So…yeah. I may or may not have compared my own Dad to Homer Simpson before but that doesn’t mean were THAT similar to them. Sheesh.
These burgers though. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill burgers, these things are fancy “little sh*ts” as my best friend would say. Prepare for taste bud explosion.
Mine are served with the Urban Poser’s Pumpkin Bacon Chive Biscuits and Roasted carrots. Which by the way, are insane. Do yourself a favor and make them. I probably will for Thanksgiving.
- 4 buffalo patties, about 6 oz each (I got mine locally, frozen)*
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
- 1 Tbsp ghee, divided in 2
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into ½ rings
- ¼c apple cider
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- For the Balsamic Fig Aioli
- 3 Tbsp homemade mayo
- 2 Tbsp balsamic fig reduction.
- Begin by heating up a medium skillet on medium heat with ½ Tbsp ghee for the onions. When hot, add the garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cider. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and remove the lid. Simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, heat up a cast iron skillet with the remaining ½ Tbsp ghee. Season the burgers with a dash each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- To test if the cast iron is hot enough, wet your fingers under the sink and flick the water in the pan. If the oil pops, you’re good to go!
- Add the burgers to the cast iron, and season the other side with salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, to desired doneness.
- Let rest for about 3 minutes before serving.
- For the aioli, mix together the mayo and fig reduction. It’s that simple!
- To serve, top the burgers with caramelized onions, then the aioli. Devour!