Saturday, February 6, 2010

Build a better burger

About a year ago, DH and I were dialing across the channels trying to find something to watch that we would both find entertaining -- not a simple task. We came across a Food Network show about the 2008 Build a Better Burger Contest sponsored by the Sutter Home Winery in Napa Valley. And we thought, we can do that! So over the next few months, we came up with a concept and experimented (not exactly the easy since there was still snow on the grill and DH was on a low-carb diet) and came up with what we thought was a great entry for the alternative burger category. Burgers in the alternative category can be made from anything other than beef -- pork, poultry or seafood are the standards, but I suppose you could make a vegetarian or bison burger or whatever else strikes your fancy. The short version of this story is that we came up with a great burger, but the day before the submission deadline, I figured out that all components of the burger had to be cooked on a gas grill, and we had one component -- our frizzled onions -- that we were not exactly sure how we would cook on the grill. Would they even let us deep fry on a gas grill, or rule that out as a major fire hazard? After a little research, I discovered that this had been done in the past, but between that snafu and other smaller ones, we didn't submit the recipe. DH was annoyed, but my thought was that we had a year to further refine the recipe and learn how to deep fry on a gas grill without suffering third degree burns.

The annoying thing that I discovered tonight is that one of the finalists tonight copied our frizzled onions! And even called them that! The nerve. No worries, ours are extra special and I'm not saying why (or anything else about our burger!). One of the other potentially annoying but ultimately kind of cool things is that a lot of the ideas the cooks incorporated were ones I had had as well: pimento cheese, green tomatoes (I would fry, not grill, mine)and root beer barbecue sauce. We can do this!

One of the weird things is that they chose the finalists on the basis of how well their entry represented the regional cuisine of the part of the country in which they live. I visited the contest's website a number of times, as recently as a couple of days before the deadline, and I don't remember seeing anything about that. Our entry would absolutely not have represented the southern region, but it would have been a fabulous entry for the western-most region. Another idea I had which we didn't pursue would have been a great entry from Louisiana -- except that they had Louisiana in the mid-western region. Sorry, but that is a total WTF?

All in all, I didn't think that anything I saw tonight was better than our burger.

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