Okay, you can say I am a sore loser. I am still bitter that my recipe submission for the 2008 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger contest in California's Napa Valley was snubbed.
I continue to maintain that my Best of Vermont Burger with maple bacon, thick slices of cheddar and green apple slaw is a winner. I throw it to the #CookClub to be the judge.
I had never entered a recipe contest before, mostly because many of them bar food professionals. Contest people figure a journalist who writes about food for a living has an unfair advantage. Well, I guess that didn't matter much.
The recipe calls for apple schnapps in the slaw dressing but you can use apple cider. It has plenty of flavors that are staples in Vermont: apple, maple syrup, maple bacon.
Yeah, I know it has a lot of ingredients, but the Hawaii Da Kine Burgers With Sweet-Chili Glaze, Ginger-Goat Cheese Spread and Hot Watercress Salad — that year's winner — had more. So there.
The grand prize was $25,000, and it still is. Entries are being accepted until Sept. 8 for this year's contest. Read the rules carefully at buildabetterburger.com.
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Post photos and comments about the Best of Vermont Burger by 6 p.m. Aug. 3. Some of the photos and comments will be printed Aug. 6 in the Taste section of the Tampa Bay Times.
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Best of Vermont Burger
For the green apple slaw:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple schnapps (see note)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large Granny Smith apple, halved and cored
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
For the burgers:
2 pounds ground chuck
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
9 slices maple bacon
6 thick slices cheddar cheese
Melted butter for brushing
6 French or good-quality hamburger buns
French's horseradish mustard (see note)
To make slaw: Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, apple schnapps and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Cut half the cored apple in matchstick strips and place in dressing immediately so that the lemon juice prevents discoloring. Grate the remaining half of the apple into the mix. Add sage and red onion. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make burgers: Place all burger ingredients in medium bowl and mix them together gently by hand. Do not overwork the burgers or the meat will be tough.
Divide mixture into six equal portions and shape into round patties, about ½ inch thick. With your thumbs, make a slight indentation in the middle to prevent shrinking on the grill. Place in a single layer on a platter and cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap until ready to cook.
Cook bacon and keep warm.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high. Coat the grill grate with nonstick spray and add burger patties. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes and flip. After about 4 minutes, top each burger with slice of cheddar. While cheese is melting, brush split burger buns with melted butter and toast, cut side down.
To assemble burgers: Spread about 1 tablespoon of French's horseradish mustard on bottom half of toasted bun and top with heaping tablespoon of the slaw. Add cheddar burger, drape with 1 ½ slices of bacon and top with about ¼ cup of slaw. Crown with top half of toasted bun. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 burgers.
Note: You can use apple cider or juice in place of apple schnapps. Also, French's has a product that mixes horseradish with brown mustard. To make your own, mix 3 parts brown mustard with 1 part prepared horseradish.
Source: Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor