Battle Burger: Colleen vs. Jarret

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to enter the annual Build a Better Burger contest that I always see on the Food Network. To be honest, I’ve never actually made a burger before, but I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to come up with some recipes! There’s no limit to the number of burgers a single person can enter, so – enticed with the grand prize of $50,000 – I came up with two original recipes: Brandy Blue Cheese Burgers with Endive and Caramelized Shallots and Bacon Beer-Cheeseburgers with Maple-Glazed Bacon and Apples.

My friend Jarret wanted in on the burger testing, so he made a couple burgers of his own and challenged me to a “burger off”. He didn’t end up writing down the recipes, but he made one with a homemade honey-chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar, bacon, and red onion and the other with blue cheese and red wine braised pearl onions.


I got the idea for the blue cheese burgers from my parent’s blue cheese stuffed endive appetizer that was always one of my favorites growing up. The blue cheese stuffing is a spread made with blue cheese, brandy, and mayonnaise. I used endives for crunch on top of the burger and then some caramelized shallots for a little sweetness. I can’t say there is much of a story behind the beer-cheeseburgers other than the fact that I love beer-cheese and thought it would go really well with a burger! I balanced the bitterness of the cheese spread with maple glazed bacon and fresh apple slices.

As far as the patty itself, I had to do a little research. I think chuck is probably the most popular cut of meat for a burger, but I had just read an article that said brisket is actually a much more flavorful cut of meat for a burger. I compromised and went with 50% chuck and 50% brisket, both freshly ground at the store.

Then comes the question of what should go into the meat mixture, if anything. I recently read an article about store bought demi-glace in Saveur and decided I should find a use for it (it doesn’t take much to convince me, obviously). Then I thought: why not add a little to the burger for extra flavor? I added it to the patties for the blue cheese burgers and it worked beautifully. For the beer-cheeseburgers, I just used a little bit of Dijon mustard and olive oil in the burger mix.

I will admit that our end results were maybe a little sloppy looking as we had been cooking and sipping on beer all day, but it was all delicious tasting nevertheless! I do need to make a couple of disclaimers: 1) We did make four types of burgers for three people, but I promise we didn’t each eat four burgers! 2) The burgers we made were smaller than the ones in my “official” recipes, but the contest rules called for each recipe to yield six normal sized burgers.

We had quite a spread to show for all of our hard work…


We had my friend Katie “judge” our burgers at the end.


Katie’s favorite was the beer-cheeseburger. Win!

~~~~~~~~~~

Brandy Blue Cheese Burgers with Endive and Caramelized Shallots

Caramelized Shallots
2 pounds shallots, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Blue Cheese Spread
6 ounces Roquefort cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons brandy
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

Patties
1 pound freshly ground chuck
1 pound freshly ground brisket
4 teaspoons store bought demi-glace (I use the More Than Gourmet brand that can be found at Whole Foods)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for brushing the burgers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 high-quality brioche buns, split
3 Belgian endives, separated into leaves

Preheat a gas grill to medium-low.

To make the caramelized shallots, melt the butter in a large fire-proof skillet. Add the sliced shallots and salt; sauté for 15 minutes. Then, add the brown sugar and continue to sauté on medium low for 45 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and golden brown. Set aside.

To make the blue cheese spread, combine the Roquefort, mayonnaise, brandy, and white pepper in a food processer. Process until the spread is smooth and set aside.

To make the patties, gently mix together the ground chuck, ground brisket, demi-glace, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Form six even-sized patties. Brush the burgers with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper on both sides and gently press your thumb into the middle of each patty (this will make it so the burgers don’t bulge up in the middle as they cook).

Increase the heat on the grill to medium-high. When the grill is heated, add the patties to the rack. Cook for a total of 5-7 minutes on each side for medium, turning only once. Add a small amount of the blue cheese spread on top of each burger during the last minute of cooking (but too much because you don’t want to overpower the meat!). Make sure to remove the patties from the grill before the spread drips down the side of the patties.

As the burgers are cooking, melt the butter in a fire-proof skillet. Brush a little bit of butter onto each brioche bun half and grill for a couple of minutes, or until the buns have grill marks.

To assemble the burgers, place a generous amount of the caramelized shallots on the bottom halves of the buns. Place the patties on top of the shallots. Top with several endive leaves and the top halves of the buns.

~~~~~~~~~~

Bacon Beer-Cheeseburgers with Maple-Glazed Bacon and Apples

Beer Cheese
8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
¼ cup white onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch of cayenne
½ cup lager (I used Brooklyn Lager, but use the one of your choice)

Bacon
12 slices of bacon
1/3 cup real maple syrup

Patties
1 pound freshly ground chuck
1 pound freshly ground brisket
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for brushing the burgers and buns
6 pretzel buns, split
3 large granny smith apples

Preheat a gas grill to medium-low.

To make the bacon, add to a large fire-proof skillet in a single layer and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until crisp. Remove the cooked bacon from the skillet and brush a thin layer of the maple syrup onto each side of the bacon. Set aside.

To make the beer cheese, first pour the beer into a glass and wait for the foam to settle. Then, combine the grated cheese, onion, garlic, hot sauce, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, and cayenne in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the beer and puree until smooth. Set aside.

To make the patties, gently mix together the ground chuck, ground brisket, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Form six even-sized patties. Brush the burgers with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper on both sides and gently press your thumb into the middle of each patty (this will make it so the burgers don’t bulge up in the middle as they cook).

Increase the heat on the grill to medium-high. When the grill is heated, add the patties to the rack. Cook for a total of 5-7 minutes on each side for medium, turning only once. Add a small amount of the beer cheese on top of each burger during the last minute of cooking (but too much because you don’t want to overpower the meat!). Make sure to remove the patties from the grill before the cheese drips down the side of the patties.

As the burgers are cooking, brush a little bit of olive oil onto each pretzel bun half and grill for a couple of minutes, or until the buns have grill marks.

Meanwhile, core the apples and cut into ¼ inch slices. If you are slicing them more than a few minutes ahead of time, drizzle some lemon juice over the apples so they don’t’ brown.

To assemble the burgers, place a 2 or 3 apple slices on the bottom halves of the buns. Place the patties on top of the apples. Top each burger with two slices of the bacon and the top halves of the buns.

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  • j. mathew

    I still contend my bbq burger was delicious. I won in my heart.

  • Colleen

    It was good. However, let's not forget that the base of your barbecue sauce was from my recipe. Haha



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