Best Burger Contests

You could say that I am a recovering recipe contest fanatic.  (Actually, I am forced into recovery because I do not have enough time anymore to devote to trolling through contest sites.)   If someone would pay me to blog, write recipes and enter contests full time, my life would be complete.  Although I have had moderate success with recipe contests, the giant carrot hanging in front of me and unrealized dream has to be the Better Burger Contest.

Year before last, I became obsessive compulsive about building that illusive “Better Burger.”  I devoted much of the summer to developing recipes for the  Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger Contest.  This was the first contest I entered as I started to feed my addiction.  I must have entered twenty different recipes and I was totally optimistic about each and every one.  (It was a great summer for my husband as we grilled out almost every night to perfect different burger recipes.)  I was utterly convinced I would have a winner.

Here are some of my more creative recipes for that first contest:

Aromatic Thai Burgers
Brat Burgers with “Dunkelized” Onions
Balsamic-Glazed Apple Cheddar Burgers
Honey-Glazed Tabasco Burgers with Fennel-Jalapeno Slaw
“Poblanocado” Burgers with Jicama-Radish Salad and Lime-Chipotle Vinaigrette

Border Burgers w/Roasted Salsa and Chipotle Mayo
Herbed Chicken Burgers w/Spicey Horsey Sauce
Summer Garden Burgers
Pesto Chicken Burgers
Basil/Parm Chicken Burgers
Bruschetta Chicken Burgers
Caprese Salad Burgers

Alas, all this creativity went to waste and was not recognized.  Seriously, I was crushed when I received no call.  I was sure I had the winning $100,000 burger.  I was in a funk for weeks.

Since then, I have entered and won a few prizes which have included gift baskets, many cookbooks, magazine subscriptions, and a $50 gift card.  By far, the biggest and best prize was getting to compete in Cooking Light’s Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest in 2009.  It was my first cook-off and I was thrilled just to compete.  (See previous posts for more info.)

I was awed to simply compete in this cook-off and again, I was in a funk for days after I didn’t win the grand prize.  It is funny, but since I found a little success with the Cooking Light contest, I have not been so out-of-control with entering.  I think maybe that I am channeling that creativity into this blog instead.  I don’t spend all day Saturday perusing contest sites and pouring over my existing recipes for possible entries.  Until recently, I basically had quit cold turkey.

That is, until I got a phone call.  Apparently, I had entered a recipe in a Taste of Home contest.  When I got the call, I didn’t even remember what recipe and what contest it was.  To my surprise, I won $400.  Then a few weeks ago, I won a second place prize for my Garden Harvest Frittata.    Same thing—I had forgotten I had even entered.

These two recent awards have me thinking about that big elusive win and that winning burger recipe that I just haven’t thought up yet.   Part of me still thinks I can do it!

Here’s one of the recipes that I entered (that I was sure would win) on the initial odyssey for that grand prize!

Aromatic Thai Burgers

For slaw:
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 T. finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 c. canola oil
Sea salt and ground tri-color pepper
14 oz. classic coleslaw mix (thin shred)
For burgers:
2 lbs. hamburger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 T. canola oil
2 T. lime juice
1/2 t. orange zest, chopped
1/2 T. Asian fish sauce
1/8 c. soy sauce
3 Serrano peppers, seeded and diced
Salt and pepper
3 T. olive oil
6 Kaiser rolls, split

Preheat or prepare grill.

In a blender, blend vinegar, sugar, ginger, and oil until emulsified.  In a sealable bag, toss dressing with cabbage and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside in refrigerator.

Combine ground beef, minced garlic cloves, minced shallot, canola oil, lime juice, orange zest, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into six patties and grill 3-4 minutes per side (or longer for desired doneness).

Brush rolls with olive oil and toast on grill during last few minutes of cooking burgers.

To assembly, place burger on bottom halve of toasted Kaiser roll, place a serving of slaw on top of burger, and place top half of Kaiser roll on top of slaw.  Serve.

So, obviously this wasn’t a winner, a potential finalist recipe, or even an honorable mention.  But, I am not bitter and I will still roll this recipe out from time to time.

NOTE:  As I was preparing this post, I noticed that the Build a Better Burger contest is going on now.   Maybe this year?  Hmmmm.


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My Favorite Reads

Eat, Pray, Love
Running with Scissors
SantaLand Diaries
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Angela's Ashes
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
My Life in France
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
The Liars' Club
Code Name Verity
The Paris Wife
The Shoemaker's Wife
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel
Brother of the More Famous Jack
Burying the Honeysuckle Girls

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