Over ten years ago I was on a business trip to Philadelphia and the group I was with went to a dive of a Mexican restaurant in south Philly. The place was very small and only had a few tables, so the hostess led us to the back and up a narrow set of dark stairs to the upper floor. Upstairs was also small, but there were a few tables and a bar.
We sat down, ordered and as I was taking a sip of my margarita, a somewhat familiar melody wafted into my ears. I stopped listening to the conversation and concentrated on the music. The song was a punk rock style song with a male vocalist. It was fast and the guitars were played hard. The more I listened the name of the song came to me, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from the Broadway show Evita. I must have been mistaken. How can a punk band be singing show tunes?
The song ended and just as I was getting back into the conversation the music distracted me again. It was The Phantom of the Opera, I could swear it. Again, in a punk style. After that was more show tunes including My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. I had to find out who this band was.
I got up and found my way to the tiny bar and asked the bartender. Without looking at the CD, she told me it was Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies. Me what and the who? When I got back to my hotel room I fired up the laptop and looked them up. The Gimmies, as they are generally referred to, are a punk “super band” that sings only covers (songs that others have sung). They have created albums of broadway songs, country, 70’s music and other themes all in their own unique style.
The Gimmies have not had huge commercial success but their music is very popular for TV and film. Their recordings have appeared in the movies Dodgeball and Boat Trip and television shows such as Taxicab Confessions, Big Love and Queer as Folk.
I now own all of their songs and routinely rock out to their rendition of songs like Rainbow Connection, Sloop John B and Riders in the Sky. I have even created new fans for the band by finding creative ways to get people to listen to them. Luckily, I’ve had success with that ploy!
Pesto Chicken Burgers
This sandwich is a surprise like the Gimmies. I had not used pesto as a condiment for a sandwich in this way before. but like the Gimmies, it works.
Your basic ingredients.
Put the ingredients for the pesto into the food processor.
Look at that beautiful green color.
I spread the pesto and other spices over the ground chicken and then made the patties.
I decided to shape the patties closer to the shape of the bread versus just going with the standard round.
In the pan.
Topped and delicious. Gimmie some more!
Pesto Chicken Burgers
Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Makes: 4
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup baby spinach (1 ounce)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grilling
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 1 pound ground white-meat chicken
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 4 pieces focaccia, halved
1. In a food processor, puree basil, spinach, garlic, walnuts, oil, and 1 tablespoon water. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Combine 1 tablespoon pesto, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chicken and form into 4 patties. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Brush tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill patties, covered, 4 minutes. Flip patties and top with cheese. Add tomatoes to grill and cook, flipping once, until tomatoes are lightly charred and burgers are opaque throughout, 4 minutes.
3. Assemble sandwiches in focaccia with pesto, burgers, and tomatoes.