Build A Better Burger® With 16 Ingredients Or Less
Simplicity may be the key to earning $50,000 this year. For the 16th anniversary of the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest and Cook-Off®, the search for America’s best burger, judges are looking for entries to include a maximum of 16 ingredients.
“In the past, there has been no limit on the number of ingredients,” says head judge James McNair. “We’re simplifying the contest by paring down the number of items used.”
McNair suggests that contestants reinvent their favorite burger with new and different toppings or show off their ethnic background by incorporating traditional ingredients from their country of origin.
From shiitake mushroom ketchup, Cuban pickle salsa, and banana duck chutney to tzatziki with feta, Creole honey mustard, and chermoula mayonnaise, winning burgers have included a range of exotic flavors from around the world.
So, the question remains, can you build a better burger with 16 ingredients or less? McNair says yes. Four grand prize winners in the past 15 years used 16 ingredients or less to create their unique burgers. Last year’s $50,000 winner, Barry Rosenstein of Elmhurst, Ill., used 35 ingredients to build his Sweet and Spicy Red Fez Burgers.
“All of the judges were very impressed with the taste and presentation of Barry’s burgers, but the length of his recipe was a bit daunting for the average person to re-create,” says Jeffrey Starr, culinary director and executive chef for Sutter Home Winery and Build a Better Burger. “For 2006, we want creative burgers yet accessible to everyday cooks.”
McNair recommends reading “Build a Better Burger,” published by Ten Speed Press last year, to see all of the previous winning recipes through 2004 and get tips on cooking burgers on the grill.
Build a Better Burger accepts entries from May 15, 2006, to August 21, 2006. For complete contest entry rules, visit build abetterburger.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Build a Better Burger, Sutter Home Winery, P.O. Box 248, St. Helena, CA, 94574-0248. Build a Better Burger is not open to residents of California or Utah. Ten finalists will be flown to the Napa Valley to compete in a burger grilling cook-off on September 30, which a renowned panel of chefs will judge.
Build a Better Burger is sponsored by Sutter Home Family Vineyards, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the California Avocado Commission, Colavita Olive Oil, Barbeques Galore, Grey Poupon, Snyder’s of Hanover, and Kettle Chips.
Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers
2/3 cup mayonnaise
Two tablespoons of prepared basil pesto
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup Zinfandel
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs
Eight sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, finely chopped
Two teaspoons garlic salt
Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
Eight large fresh basil sprigs, moistened with water
Six large seeded sandwich rolls, split
6 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
Six red leaf lettuce leaves
6 (1/4-inch-thick) large tomato slices
Six paper-thin red onion slices, separated into rings
Six fresh basil sprigs
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Combine the mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To make the patties, combine the sirloin, Zinfandel, basil, onion, bread crumbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible, mix well. Divide the mixture into six equal portions and form them into patties to fit the rolls.
When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Toss basil sprigs directly onto the f—placeace patties on the rack; cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, place rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Top each patty with a cheese slice—Cook for 1 minute.
Spread the mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll’s bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, a tomato slice, an onion slice, and a basil sprig. Add the roll tops and serve.
With 16 ingredients, this burger took the grand prize in 1990.