DishItForward Nonna's Assassination Burgers

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Another submission for the DishItForward series is a recipe for super juicy burgers. Who doesn’t love that? Especially when it includes fond memories of a grandmother. They always seem to have the best cooking secrets to pass on. My grandmother and mom were my greatest teachers!

When I was growing up, my best friend, Donna, grew up in a traditional, multi-generational Italian home. Her grandparents lived with them and her grandmother (Nonna) loved to cook. Whenever I came over, she tried to feed me no matter what time of day it was – she loved feeding people! When we came home from school, Nonna would be in the downstairs kitchen (the house had three kitchens…lol) cooking. This burger recipe is one of the best after school snacks she would make. There are two secrets that make it so good: the cast iron pan and the bread crumb coating. We have two cast iron pans in our kitchen – the smaller one was my Grandma Helen’s and must be over 50 years old and gets better with every use. The larger one we got when my husband and I got married and is 15 years young this month! This is a tribute to Nonna’s recipe, Grandma Helen’s little cast iron pan, and the tradition of passing along family recipes for generations to come!

How the burger got it’s name:

At the end bite in carefully! The first time I made these for my husband when we were first dating, he didn’t wait a moment or two, and bit right in and the hot juices inside the burger burnt his face!  At that moment, he gave it the nickname of the assassination burger because “it practically burnt my face off”.  Once the initial shock of the delicious juiciness and flavor settled in, he declared to me “this is the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life!” 

Nonna’s Assassination Burgers

Assassination burgers are juicy and full of flavor.
You cannot go wrong with this grandma's recipe!


  • 1 lb ground beef 80% or 85% lean

  • 1 c bread crumbs italian seasoned

  • 4 rolls pan de sal (from philippine bread house)

  • 4 slices Trader Joes yogurt cheese

  • kosher salt

  • pepper

  • olive oil

  • cast iron pan


  1. Heat up the cast iron pan on medium heat.

  2. Pour olive oil into the pan - enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but not deep.

  3. Loosely form hamburger patties - enough so they stay together but not tightly packed

  4. Sprinkle the italian bread crumbs onto a piece of aluminum foil and dredge the hamburger patties in the bread crumbs, pressing down lightly on both sides to encourage the bread crumbs to stick, and also ensuring the sides are covered, as well

  5. Place the bread crumb covered hamburger patties in the heated olive oil, loosely tenting with foil, and cook for 5-8 minutes.

  6. Carefully flip the hamburgers and you should see a nice browning has been formed

  7. Carefully poke one time with a steak knife into the top of the hamburger - this will release only a small amount of the juice.

  8. Cover with a new piece of foil (since the original foil was touching the raw side of the burger) and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

  9. Turn the burger once more and place a piece of your cheese of choice on top. (note: Susan love's Trader Joe’s yogurt cheese because it is a thick, sturdy slice and has a bit of a tangy taste to it)

  10. Return the foil tenting and keep an eye on it as it melts.

  11. Take your pan de sol rolls or your english muffins, slice in half and lightly toast in the toaster or broiler.

  12. As soon as cheese is melted, place the hamburger on the roll and let sit for a moment or two. Put on any condiments you would like and take a bite!