When the Los Angeles Times challenged burgermeisters from across the country for their best burger recipes, the gauntlet was thrown down! I’m always up for a challenge, but I must admit, the notion of switching gears to share a different facet of my kitchen experience gave me a wee bit of trepidation. What would happen if I put the buttercream frosting aside for a while? Would Cakewalker friends abandon me if I picked up a wide spatula for flipping burgers instead of pastry bags?
I had to test the waters, so I wrote up a recipe and baked some burger buns one day. It was still baking, right? And I made sure to keep close to sweet by using a nice measure of brown sugar in the recipe. Still, dare I do an about face? I posted a picture of those buns cooling on the stove onto Cakewalker’s Facebook fan page. And to my surprise and delight, friends wanted to know more about the buns!
With your affirmative nod, the support of my family & friends and my promise to come back to things sugary sweet, I accepted the challenge and entered the first Los Angeles Times’ Battle of the Burgers. The requirements were simple: submit a recipe and an essay stating why it was the best, baddest burger out there—a photo to accompany the entry was highly encouraged, but not necessary. From nearly 90 entries, a public vote determined the 20 semi-finalists. Those 20 recipes were then tested by the LA Times Test Kitchen to which 5 were chosen from the paper’s Food staff as finalists. I’m so excited to tell you that the recipe for my Red, White & Blueberry Burger finished as a Top 5 finalist!
My sweet reward included an invitation to the LA Times to meet the staff, visit the Test Kitchen and have a photo taken to appear in print along with the burger recipe in the June 30, 2011 Food section of the Los Angeles Times—just in time for the Fourth of July holiday! My family and I were welcomed by the warm and gracious staff making our visit there the pinnacle of an extended Father’s Day weekend.
Watch the LA Times “Battle of the Burgers” video
To answer the numerous requests for, and to mark the occasion of my first recipe published outside this blog, I present to you the essay, photo and recipe for the Red, White & Blueberry Burger. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for the support and votes—it made this joyous accomplishment that much sweeter!
On a recent Saturday afternoon I was intrigued by a Facebook post from the LA Times calling for the best burger recipes. By default, I’m wired sweet, but there’s an undeniable savory side to me as well. So I went to the garden for some inspiration keeping the Fourth of July tucked in the back of my mind. There I spied our blueberry plants whose green fruit was just starting to hint at a shade of blue. And the jalapeno plants were beginning to set flowers…spring was well underway and that’s when I sprang into action. My garden tour brought to mind some blueberry jam I had canned the previous summer and some chipotle peppers in Adobo—both within reach in the kitchen pantry.
To me, this is one of the best burgers ever because it showcases the essence of American food and culture. The gorgeous red ripeness of a grapefruit-sized Hot House tomato; its firm, yet tender flesh cut to release its juice. White onions born from our fields and sliced thin, floured and seasoned then fried in pork fat to a golden crisp. Under it, a sheet of artisan Point Reyes Blue Cheese perfectly melted and draped over a pure ground chuck beef patty grilled to perfection. What pulls it all together? My sweet and smoky Blueberry Chipotle BBQ sauce. The quintessential summer berry meets the melting pot of chili peppers in a bold sauce that captures both the sweet heart of America and the spirited fire in our bellies. And the hand-held meal is encased in a malty-sweet Brown Sugar Burger Bun. NOTHING says Fourth of July or any summertime BBQ more than this Red, White & Blueberry Burger!
Re-published from June 30, 2011