Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How To Cook The World's Greatest Hamburgers
September 4, 2007 4:28 PM   Subscribe

With a grand prize of $50,000, the Build a Better Burger Contest is the biggest hamburger recipe contest in the world; with the upcoming contest being judged on Sept 29th, you can take a moment to stroll through hamburger history, with recipes for all 17 years worth of prizewinners. Not enough burger for you? Then try making any of the 10 runner ups from 2005 & 2006. Still more, you demand? Peruse the database of over 5,000 contest entries broken out by category, even the most jaded burgermeister is sure to find something original & delicious to try.
posted by jonson (77 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I recommend seasoning the meat with bacon salt.
posted by Poolio at 4:30 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think if I had lots of money this would be exactly the type of contest I would sponsor, just to be able to judge it.
posted by fusinski at 4:36 PM on September 4, 2007


but ... none of those are actually burgers.
posted by grex at 4:41 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Salmon? Tuna? BLASPHEMY!

A burger is COW, baby.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:43 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am sooo hungry right now.
Looks like we're having gourmet burgers at the bstreep household tonight!
Thanks jonson.
posted by bstreep at 4:45 PM on September 4, 2007


Hells yes. Nice post, Google team!
posted by Kwine at 4:46 PM on September 4, 2007


there is something wrong about a vineyard sponsoring a burger contest. Burgers are best consumed with a milkshake ,soda or beer.
posted by grex at 4:47 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is a winery sponsoring a burger competition?
posted by backseatpilot at 4:48 PM on September 4, 2007


"Why is a winery sponsoring a burger competition?"

I wanna hear William Shatner say the above line with the same inflection he used at the end of Star Trek Six.

"What would God need with a starship?"

And then of course he gets struck by lightning and his stuntman flies across the soundstage. IT WOULD BE AWESOME!
posted by ZachsMind at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is a winery sponsoring a burger competition?

To sell more wine?
posted by notyou at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2007


Here's mine. It probably won't win any awards, but it should.


Ingrediants:
- 1.16 lbs of beef
- 12 square inches of 1/4" thick cheese (mozz.)
- 1 whole walla-walla onion
- the middle part of a round french loaf (la brea)
- 1 egg
- the whole goddamn spice drawer
- 1oz aged balsamic vinegar of Modena
- 2oz extra virgin olive oil

Mix egg, beef, vinegar, olive oil, and liberal ammounts of the following spices: pepper, sea salt, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and whatever other powders you got, in a large bowl. Form in to a large rectangle about 1" thick. Cut ends off bread loaf so the remaining piece is about 25% smaller than beef rectangle. Slice bread in half.

Cut onion in half, then cut into semi-circle shaped segments about 1/4" thick. Keep the long outer parts, discard the inner parts. Grill in and frying pan on stove top on medium low in extra virgin olive oil and a dash or three of salt until soft and translucent (or dead and crispy, if that's your thing).

Grill meat at 650 deg F for 2 minutes on each side. Flip to first side, reduce all burners to low, grill for about 4 minutes @ 350ish degrees. Flip and repeat for the second side. Flip again, add cheese to the top, put bread crust side-up on grill. Turn back burners to high to melt cheese and toast bread, for about 1 minute.

Assemble all parts, cut in half; eat.

posted by jeffamaphone at 4:58 PM on September 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


Why is a winery sponsoring a burger competition?

Don't know, don't much care. I assume the thinking is that red wine goes with steak, why not ground steak? Trying to class up the burger, probably. Still, isn't getting a months worth of award winning hamburger recipes (not to mention 5,000 more entries) & questioning the sponsor a bit like looking a gift horse in the mouth?
posted by jonson at 4:59 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


looking a gift horse in the mouth?

or in this case a gift cow.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on September 4, 2007


To sell more wine?

Well, sure. I guess my confusion lies in how they plan on doing that. Their rules say they get the rights to your recipe, but don't say anything about how they use it. Do they publish a recipe book or something?

I guess it's kind of like Sam Adams' Longshot competition, except they explicitly state that they will produce your beer (and keep all the profits, natch).

Totally unrelated, it seems like beer and wine producers are trying to reach each others' markets. Beer companies are gentrifying their product while wineries are appealing to the everyman with... burger contests?
posted by backseatpilot at 5:03 PM on September 4, 2007


Of course, questioning the sponsor will not stop me from trying to replace all of my precious bodily fluids with ground beef. Just saying.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:04 PM on September 4, 2007


Grill meat at 650 deg F for 2 minutes on each side.

Is my broiler capable of this? Or do I need to bring out the propane torch?

backseatpilot: you've got the idea. When the contest is broadcast on FoodTV, Sutter Home (and the rest) expect to earn it all back with shots of signage and mentions from the host.

But these burgers -- they're your gourmet-restaurant, $25 entree type of burger, not the kind you get down at the Shake n Fry. Sutter Home isn't chasing after High Life drinkers.
posted by notyou at 5:14 PM on September 4, 2007


And death for no reason is murder

a juicy, delicious murder with cheese and a side of fries.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on September 4, 2007


And death for no reason is murder

a juicy, delicious murder with cheese and a side of fries.


Why does every MeFi meat thread end up like this?
posted by notyou at 5:18 PM on September 4, 2007


because the anti-meat people won't butt out of our threads. I'm happy to butt out of theirs.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on September 4, 2007


You could always turn the other cheek, johnmc.
posted by notyou at 5:25 PM on September 4, 2007


Heifer whines could be human cries

Or they could come with a side of fries.
posted by Poolio at 5:26 PM on September 4, 2007



I wanna hear William Shatner say the above line with the same inflection he used at the end of Star Trek Six.



Star Trek V.
VI is "The Undiscovered Country" about a plot to restart conflicts between the Klingons and the Federation.

Carry on.

/nerd

posted by papakwanz at 5:27 PM on September 4, 2007


If we're not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?
posted by Poolio at 5:28 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


You could always turn the other cheek, johnmc.

How could you see his username right there and still spell it wrong? How could you be here over two years and miss that?

Is there a meat joke I'm missing here?
posted by Cyrano at 5:30 PM on September 4, 2007


I do not go out of my way to club fuzzy animals and wallow in their blood for pure hedonistic pleasure, but I do enjoy a good hamburger.

Similarly, I will continue to wear leather shoes, but I will pass on draping whole animal carcasses over my shoulders.
posted by yhbc at 5:31 PM on September 4, 2007


[Insert Homer Simpson voice here] Hmm. Burgers...[/Homer] Now all we need is a decent sweet potato fries recipe. Baked or deep fried? Suggestions?
posted by t2urner at 5:32 PM on September 4, 2007


I will pass on draping whole animal carcasses over my shoulders.

You don't know what you're missing, yhbc.
posted by Poolio at 5:33 PM on September 4, 2007


For the past three years Food Network has covered the 'Build a Better Burger' Challenge -1, 2, 3.
posted by ericb at 5:35 PM on September 4, 2007


No meat joke to miss, Cyrano, aside from the butt/cheek one.

I feel a little sheepish about misspelling jonmc's nick, though. Thanks for the correction.
posted by notyou at 5:36 PM on September 4, 2007


NPR: Kevin Weeks on Building a Better Burger.
posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2007


My recipe:

Bun
Meat
Pure Essence of Flavor

Combine and eat.
posted by quin at 5:40 PM on September 4, 2007


Crap, it worked on preview: PEoF
posted by quin at 5:42 PM on September 4, 2007


Jesus Christ. I just want a fucking burger, y'know?
posted by Jairus at 5:47 PM on September 4, 2007


four panels writes "A death for no reason"

Food is the reason. We're all food for something else.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:48 PM on September 4, 2007


What Jairus said.
posted by ranchocalamari at 5:54 PM on September 4, 2007


I've never seen so many ways to ruin a burger. Figs? Really?
posted by sourwookie at 5:58 PM on September 4, 2007


And death for no reason is murder

Funny you should quote that. When I was a teenager, I had a job at the markets - lousy pay, but the manager made up for it by allowing us to order pretty much what we liked for lunch, from the market stalls. The Greek guy at the hamburger stall became quite familiar with...

The Meat-is-Murder Burger:

* triple beef patties
* double cheese
* double bacon
* fried onions
* fried egg
* steak
* bbq sauce

Nice & simple, direct & to the point - lots of protein for growing lads.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:08 PM on September 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


I always like to share this burger recipe with people. This makes four burgers.

2 lb ground kosher beef
1 avocado, finely sliced or mashed
1 tomato, finely sliced
1 raw fresh onion, finely sliced or diced
ketchup
4 kaiser rolls
1/2 lb cooked mushrooms

Best (kosher) burger on earth. I've heard that this is massively improved by swiss cheese but I've never tried it.
posted by Electrius at 6:19 PM on September 4, 2007


*glowers at papakwanz*

It's a fair cop, but society is to blame.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:30 PM on September 4, 2007


Iron Chef did hamburger just a couple of weeks ago.. can't find the recipe anywhere, though.
posted by empath at 6:34 PM on September 4, 2007


Damn!

Hungry now...
posted by gergtreble at 6:34 PM on September 4, 2007


I'm not sure who is the bigger douche among the following categories:

1) People who don't eat meat and wander into meat related threads to prosteltyze.

2) People who eat meat & trumpet that fact in the face of over earnest vegetarians & vegans who are, let's face, just trying to cut down on the amount of suffering in the world.

3) People who see a gourmet recipe for a straightforward item like a burger & take the opportunity to proclaim their everyman status, as though a disdain for trying something different were a badge of pride rather than a sign of the death of your spirit.

One thing's for sure, winning the "smallest douchebag" award" is hardly something to be proud of.
posted by jonson at 6:35 PM on September 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


3) People who see a gourmet recipe for a straightforward item like a burger & take the opportunity to proclaim their everyman status, as though a disdain for trying something different were a badge of pride rather than a sign of the death of your spirit.

who did that?
posted by jonmc at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2007


This dude. And this dude. And this dude. For once in the history of metafilter, the person being accused of promoting their everyman status to the point where it annoys another person is NOT jonmc.
posted by jonson at 6:45 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


jonson, saying that figs on a burger don't sound appetizing is hardlya wholesale rejection of new experience. And while I don't neccesarily agree, I can see where their coming from. A burger's appeal is it's simplicity, sometimes the traditional way of preparing a dish is so good, it dosen't need to be messed with.
posted by jonmc at 6:50 PM on September 4, 2007


i'm pretty sure no one needs any clarification on where you stand on the issue of simple vs fancy, jon.
posted by jonson at 7:07 PM on September 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


I seem to remember he's eaten both Pocky and deep-fried Mars bars, so I don't think your critique is valid in this instance, jonson.
posted by yhbc at 7:10 PM on September 4, 2007


And more to the point, although I do enjoy reading about the fancy burger recipies, I don't think I will ever make any of them in this lifetime. Nor will most folks, who will just cook a basic burger. So, maybe that's all the nose-snooters are really on about.
posted by yhbc at 7:13 PM on September 4, 2007


i'm pretty sure no one needs any clarification on where you stand on the issue of simple vs fancy, jon.

Hey, I like my junkfood, but I also enjoy caviar, single malt scotch, risotto, bernaise sauce, carpaccio and a whole lot of other 'fancy' dishes. I am large, I contain multitudes.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on September 4, 2007


I like peanut butter and jelly sammiches!
posted by ZachsMind at 7:16 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Deep-fried risotto would actually go pretty well with bernaise sauce. And a single malt scotch.

hold the fucking caviar
posted by yhbc at 7:17 PM on September 4, 2007


Deep-fried risotto

my nonna will find you and kill you for suggesting that.

hold the fucking caviar


Don't fuck the caviar. You might fertilize it, then we'd have commish fish.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 PM on September 4, 2007


Oooh. My dad used to make this burger, an earlier contest winner, every summer when I was growing up. It is totally awesome.
posted by jrb223 at 7:42 PM on September 4, 2007


To all the whiners wondering about a winery sponsoring this: this is SUTTER HOME! THEY POPULARIZED WHITE ZINFANDEL AND OWE THEIR EXISTENCE TO IT. Need I say more?
posted by Eekacat at 7:57 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and having lived in the Napa Valley, the Harry O'Shortals Mushroom/Bacon/Blue cheese burger is to die for. Though sometimes I'd have it with cheddar...
posted by Eekacat at 7:59 PM on September 4, 2007



If we're not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?

Good one. On a related note Poolio, I share your veneration for Jim Morrison, and remember that when questioned as to his favorite food he responded "meat".
posted by Tube at 7:59 PM on September 4, 2007


Iron Chef did hamburger just a couple of weeks ago.. can't find the recipe anywhere, though.

Iron Chef did do hamburger not too long ago but if I remember correctly only the challenger made an actual hamburger. He won, i think.
posted by puke & cry at 8:00 PM on September 4, 2007


Christ, look at those ridiculous burgers.

Here's how I make burgers: Go to In-N-Out, pay like $2.50 for a double-double with grilled onions. I guarantee you it's better than 98% of burgers. Yeah, you can rarely find a truly superb burger that's better than In-N-Out, but you can't find 'em anywhere near as easily and for the price.
posted by Justinian at 8:03 PM on September 4, 2007


People who see a gourmet recipe for a straightforward item like a burger & take the opportunity to proclaim their everyman status, as though a disdain for trying something different were a badge of pride rather than a sign of the death of your spirit.

I don't think there's anything 'everyman' about not wanting a cheeseburger recipe that literally has 35 ingredients. I was hoping for a contest with results that were practical, not some post-grande cuisine bullshit.
posted by Jairus at 8:08 PM on September 4, 2007


t2urner - neither.

Cut up a sweet potato/yam into "home fries" sized chunks (1.5cm x 1.5cm x 3cm, give or take), throw into microwave-safe bowl, add water to cover. Microwave until 75% cooked (or have the water go to a boil for a few seconds).

Drain, rinse with cool water, drain. Throw into a large tupperware thingy and throw in 50/50 all-purpose flour/corn starch and seasoning (coarse salt, white pepper, a touch of cumin, paprika - crushed or powdered chili if you like hot). Close tupperware top, shake until everything's evenly covered. The bits should be dry to the touch - it shouldn't have a batter consistency to them.

Heat up saucepan with oil (pretty hot), and pan-fry the potato/yam chunks until golden brown. Drain on a rack (or better yet, paper towels).

Serve warm.

---

Poolio - wasn't it Einstein who expounded on the practicalities of a leather jacket, something along the lines of a tweed jacket will last a year, a leather jacket will last a decade"?
posted by porpoise at 8:08 PM on September 4, 2007


Well, no wonder all they're getting are burgers with figs and mint and dates and things, for a lousy fifty large. Is that all a burger is worth in this effete modern age? A million five for a bus stop in Alaska and $50K for a better burger? What happened to the values that made this country great, damn it?

For shame, America. For shame.
posted by enn at 8:27 PM on September 4, 2007


I really really hate silent comment deletions, particularly when so many people respond directly to those comments later in the thread. Also, I really really love hamburgers. That is all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:32 PM on September 4, 2007


For the carnivores in the know...
posted by Eekacat at 8:47 PM on September 4, 2007


I'm fancy. I want my cow grass-fed and local. The beef not too lean. I want my tomatoes in-season, gushy dark red. Purple onions, crunchy dill pickle slices -- sliver thin. No fillers, no binders, just a good thick crust of charred (sea or kosher) salt and (fresh grated Tellicherry Indian) pepper on either side (I do expect blood to drip down my chin). I want fresh, perfect, slightly toasted bread. Not too chewy, no baguettes, but toasted brioche is nice. Dijon mustard (not whole seed). Sharp cheddar, grated (within the day) so it melts perfectly.

But figs? Fuck that.
posted by birdie birdington at 8:50 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


These are "sandwiches" -- not hamburgers. Might be good. Might be very good. I'd rather have a burger. I suspect there's a reason it has been wildly popular for many decades.
posted by RavinDave at 9:08 PM on September 4, 2007


Actually, I always find American style burgers to be quite sandwichy, lacking in substance.

A proper burger needs at least the following, in addition to the meat: lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, bacon, egg, pineapple & beetroot.

You can do away with cheese, bacon, egg & pineapple if you are short of money, but lettuce, tomato, onion & beetroot are non-negotiable; the ingredients that differentiate a burger from a meat patty sandwich.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:21 PM on September 4, 2007


Well, in Australia, maybe.

Beetroot (and pineapple, more so) on burgers in Oz were never something I could get used to, although the burgers at the little corner place behind Town Hall in Sydney that we always used to hit at lunchtime almost made me a convert.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:26 PM on September 4, 2007


Oh, god. So hungry. So very, very, hungry.....
posted by Space Kitty at 9:39 PM on September 4, 2007


& beetroot are non-negotiable

Beets? Pickled or fresh? Sliced?
posted by Brian B. at 10:29 PM on September 4, 2007


beetroot? On a burger?

What. The. Fuck. Australia?
posted by Justinian at 11:30 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure we execute people in Texas that try to put beetroot on a hamburger. Lord knows we've done it for less.
posted by puke & cry at 11:33 PM on September 4, 2007


Beets? Pickled or fresh? Sliced?

Yeh, sliced into large circles, maybe a few mm thick. They normally come out of a tin, so not fresh, but not really pickled, either. Unless dripping with bright vermilion beetroot juice counts as pickling...?

I'm a little undecided where the beetroot should be placed on the burger. It really needs to impart its coloured goodness onto the other ingredients. It's pretty good alongside the cheese, but giving purply-red juiciness to the green lettuce, on one side, and red tomato, on the other, is very aesthetically pleasing, too, but placing it - somewhat radically - against a nicely buttered bun (which is first briefly fried on the hotplate to melt the butter & soak up the meat juices) allows the bun to soak up the red & take on a bit of yummy sweetness. For maximum contrast of texture, the slightly crunchy beet can also go directly against the patty, in which case an alchemical exchange of juices takes place, ideally passing through to the partially melted cheeeese....
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:59 PM on September 4, 2007


The standard arrangement - bottom up (so upside-down here) would be as follows:

bun
butter
lettuce
tomato
beetroot

(that bottom half can be assembled while the other bits are heating, so on top of that eventually goes...)

meat
cheese
bacon
pineapple
egg
onion
sauce
butter
top bun

or maybe the pineapple goes on top of the egg, with the soft yolk poking up through the hole in the pineapple ring (which is grilled, by the way, so it caramelises)
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:08 AM on September 5, 2007


Did anybody else see jonson/jomc arguing with themselves up there at first and do a double-take?
posted by tehloki at 6:30 AM on September 5, 2007


I think a lot of these recipies are a little over the top fancy, but I take issue with the idea that burgers are in any way pedestrian or low-class. Quite the opposite, I think, for it is the elegance in their simplicity that makes their versatility immense and their appeal nigh universal. The form and function of meat patty on a bun with any combination of toppings, ingredients and combinations thereof put a delicious and substantial meal within reach of both the uncouth proletariat and the elite gourmand alike.

The common referrences within this thread and everywhere to fast food joints, and accusations of over-engineering, but it's that very ability to mass-produce the burger and still retain it's form and function that I find to be part of its beauty. Even when the simple burger is reimagined into these bizarre creations that the article displays, they still retain the humility of their master design; even your biggest, fanciest burgers aren't going to cost anywhere near what the arm and a leg they charge for a steak in even your most pedestrian chain restaurant.

I'm not a master chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy cooking, and I do not believe there is anything in that realm I have as much passion for as burgers. Not only are they a joy to consume, but a joy to make; treating and seasoning the meat until it has just the right texture and aroma, feeling it in your hands like clay. When I make burgers, I am not cooking, I am sculpting, creating. The counter, the grill, and finally the bun are my canvas. Burgers are an art. I don't have any recipies or methods that would qualify for this contest, but I love few things more than summertime cookouts, barbecues, or even huddling around my George Foreman grill and handing them off to people, hopefully reassuring them that burgers aren't the tepid prole chow the daytime cooking shows and the trendy frou-frou foodie types would like you to think they are.

Maybe I am uncultured, maybe I am an everyman, and this impassioned screed illuminates me as such, but my opinion doesn't come from lack of exposure to 'fine cuisine'. I've tried, and am always willing to try just about anything foodwise, but when it comes down to it, I'll take a Fuddrucker's 2/3lb er or a greasy bag of Five Guys (or some In N Out if I'm out west) over your Foie Gras or your Fusion Cuisine any day of the week.

All I'm saying is there's a reason why George Washington is on the $1 instead of the $100.

I love burgers.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2007


Beets? Pickled or fresh? Sliced?
No, not sliced. Just a whole fuckin' beet.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:01 AM on September 5, 2007


I don't think I've ever done this, so forgive me.

Metafilter: a juicy, delicious murder with cheese and a side of fries.

That said, a newish gourmet burger joint recently opened in North Miami. If I hadn't already put it on my to-do list for the weekend, this thread sealed the deal.

But beets? Dear god, man, have you no decency?!
posted by mkhall at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2007


« Older Coudal Partners is a Web / Media / Design studio i...  |  [SanrioFilter] Congratulations... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments