G has been wanting us to enter the Sutter Home Build A Better Burger contest for several years now. We've tried a few ideas but generally summer is so busy for us that we eventually lose our momentum and do not make the August deadline for the burger.
We started making this Roasted Garlic Jalapeno Burger with Avocado Mayo earlier in the spring. We both think it's a contender.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in the sun out on the patio reading the Seattle Met magazine about Northwest Foodie Getaways and saw an advertisement for the Cascade Country Cook-Off : Washington State Burger Battle. I ran to G and said, "Here we go, a local event to try our burger recipe out on. I think we should do it?" We both read over the rules, timeline, etc...and said, "Hey, why not we have that day open. Let's try."
Off on this adventure we went. The deadline for entry was July 10th. We saw the advertisement on July 6th so our time was short. I typed up our recipe. We read it over & over making sure it truly matched our ingredients and step by step actions. I walked up to the Proctor Post Office and mailed our entry off.
While we were up in Canada we received the call that we had indeed made the top 12 finalists. We were so excited but also the thoughts of:
"What are we doing? We've never done anything like this before? Can we really do this and not make fools of ourselves?" set in. Along with "We need to practice again."
We didn't get back to town until late Wednesday from Canada. Thursday we had our niece's 13th birthday dinner to attend and so that only left us Friday to practice one more time and the contest was on Saturday.
Friday was dress rehearsal. We last minute invited some dear friends to be our final tasters, critiquers and asked for as much critical feedback as they could give us. Although at this point we couldn't adjust our recipe but we could improve our technique.
We started with roasting our onion, jalapenos and garlic on the grill.
Then using the molcajete to create a paste with jalapeno & garlic.
We use this as a binder as opposed to egg or some other typical burger fatty binder.
We then put our burgers together. We tried 2 different techniques with the same amount of ingredients testing a few things we could still manipulate based on feedback from our friends.
Two specifics we were curious about during this last trial;
1) Does how much we are handling the burger by mixing it impact the burger's cohesion? A few times they've fallen apart more than we wanted.
2) What size of dicing the cheese will keep it from either melting out or not being noticeable in the burger?
G tried one method with half of the ingredients. I tried the other method.
We formed our burgers
and G headed out to the grill.
One of our challenges was that we typically grill these burgers on our gas grill. For the cook off we'd have to bring our own grill to the park so we needed to cook them on our charcoal Weber. Not a big deal but we wanted to ensure we had enough practice with the time of the coals, etc.
I sliced our onions and made the avocado mayo.
Another component that I was going to try a new technique with.
Initially I was dicing the avocado and adding it to the mayo.
I wanted to experiment mashing the avocado (almost like a guacamole) and then mixing in the mayo.
For the contest we can only do the burger but for friends we also made some grilled fries on the gas grill.
While G finished up the burgers on the grill
I sliced the buns
and while the burgers rested we quickly grilled the buns to give them just a slight crunch. (one component of our burger we've also been confident about has been the bun choice. A chewy exterior of the french hard roll is the perfect addition to the texture of the burger & condiments.)
Our guests prepared their burgers and we all sat down and shared our final thoughts and ideas.
We were set for the competition the next day after this final trial.