Build A Better Burger

Do you think you make a pretty good burger? If so, and you like entering contests, here’s a chance to win $100,000.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of its Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest and Cook-Off, Sutter Home Winery of St. Helena, Calif., has doubled the payoff for the winner of this year’s contest.The national search for the best-tasting, most-creative burger runs through July 31.

Since the contest began, the panel of judges has included some of the nation’s top chefs and personalities from the culinary world. This year’s roster of chefs includes Daisy Martinez , host of Viva Daisy! onn the Food Network; Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, aka The Hearty Boys, owners of The Hearty Boys Catering and hosts of several shows on The Food Network; Lucy Buffett, cookbook author and owner of LuLu’s at Homeport Marina; Fran Carpentier, senior editor of Parade Magazine; and Pam Anderson, food columnist for USA Weekend.
They join "Burger Parties" co-authors James McNair, head judge and prolific cookbook author, and Jeffrey Starr, culinary director and executive chef for Trinchero Family Estates. "Burger Parties," which features 16 themed burger celebrations using winning burger recipes from previous Build a Better Burger Cook-Offs, was released in March.

To enter the contest, go to

To help get your creative juices flowing, check out the following recipe from Christopher Kimball, the man behind the pleasantly obsessive-compulsive wing of the food world — Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines. His Old-Fashioned Burgers with Classic Sauce is part of The Associated Press’ 20 Burgers of Summer series.

Old-Fashioned Burgers with Classic Sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
½ teaspoon sweet pickle relish
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon white vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
10 ounces sirloin steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 ounces boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
4 soft hamburger buns
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese
Thinly sliced onion
To prepare the classic sauce, in a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, sugar, vinegar and black pepper. Set aside.
Place the steak and rib chunks on a baking sheet in a single layer, leaving ½ inch of space around each chunk. Freeze until very firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, 15 to 25 minutes.
Place half of the meat in a food processor and pulse until it is coarsely ground, 10 to 15 quick pulses, stopping and redistributing the meat around the bowl as necessary to ensure the beef is evenly ground. Transfer the meat to the baking sheet, overturning the bowl and not directly touching meat. Repeat grinding with remaining meat.
Spread the meat over the sheet. Discard any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat or fat. Gently separate the ground meat into 4 equal mounds. Without picking up the meat, use your fingers to gently shape each mound into a loose patty ½-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter, leaving the edges and surface ragged. Season the top of each patty with salt and pepper. Using a spatula, flip the patties and season the other side. Refrigerate.
In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium, melt ½ tablespoon of the butter until foaming. Add the bun tops, cut-side down, and toast until light golden brown, about two minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and bun bottoms. Set buns aside and wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
Return the skillet to high heat. Add the oil and heat until just smoking. Using a spatula, transfer the burgers to the skillet and cook without moving for 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and cook for one minute. Top each patty with a slice of cheese and continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about one minute longer.
Transfer the patties to the bun bottoms and top with onion. Spread 2 teaspoons of burger sauce on each bun top. Cover burgers and serve immediately.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 611 calories, 29 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams fat (17 grams saturated), 98 milligrams cholesterol, 1,096 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 379 calories from fat.