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Help me win a "best burger" cookoff!

I am getting together with some friends on Sunday and we'll be doing a casual burger cookoff. Since I am known as the best cook in the group, the pressure is on and I really want to do something cool. I may even expand it into a trio of sliders, so I can get in some different flavors. Will be using traditional 80/20 ground beef. I want to keep it at that; no lamb, pork (except sausage), etc. I blew everyone away a few years back with my lamb burgers; haven't decided what to do this year. Here are some thoughts:

#1
patty of ground beef with a little bit of spicy pork sausage (breakfast sausage) mixed in
sharp white cheddar
mayo
thin sliced roma tomato
romaine lettuce

#2
patty of ground beef with a little chorizo mixed in
roasted red pepper mayo
cheese - ? need help on this one; should I even add cheese?
guacamole?

#3
patty of ground beef
???Things I really like - bacon, fried onion rings, Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, asiago

Need some input or advice on toppings. I don't want to add anything else to the meat besides salt and pepper. No fillers. Also, I just can't bring myself to do the bacon and blue cheese burger. Though I enjoy them a lot, it is just no longer original. But doesn't bacon make everything better?

I have found a couple of threads that are about a year old. Hoping there's some fresh ideas out there. BTW, we're in Florida and the crowd will be traditional and diverse. No need for any extreme ideas, just something that a diverse crowd would enjoy.

Thanks in advance!!

-Kevin

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  1. For number two I'd ditch the guacamole and add a young manchego cheese.

    One thing I've been messing around with, is I pan fry the cheese, almost like a frico or at a place in Mexico, they called it chicharrone de queso and then add it to the burger. You get the crispy and cheese flavor in one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ESNY

      Love the Frico idea for a burger -- would work great with Parmesan too.

    2. Hey Uptown Kevin,

      I love making burgers all different flavors....A Chili burger, Basil burger, Mexicana burger, Italian burger, Big Fat Lamb Burger, Double cheddar Ale burger (thats a good one) you name i love making it, but I did one the other day my husband went nuts for...and it is so freaking simple...

      80/20
      ketchup
      dijon mustard
      whathishere sauce ;)
      salt and pepper to taste
      and then let tme sit inthe fridge for at least 1 hr to let the flavors come together

      Served on multigrain bun, I am big believer that the bun has to match the burger!
      No matter what burger you make, make sure you serve it on a bun that will hold up to the burger

      Just thought of one I might play with this holiday weekend...Spanish Burger, with some smoked paprika, spices (garlic, onions, red peppers saute for the top), chorizo (make a patty and grill and then place on top for a another layer) and some asiago cheese melted on top ...oh yeah

      1. saute onions in butter till lightly browned. Cool. Mix into burger. The butter and onions will keep the burgers even more moist than usual. If you have wild mushrooms, chop them up fine, saute. Make two thin patties, stuff the mushrooms in the middle. Reduce a little red wine and demiglace for a sauce.

        For a plain burger, I really like seasoning with Penzey's Chicago Steak mix.

        1. #1 sounds like a darn good burger - I might use a combo of mayo and a grainy med flavor mustard instead of just mayo (but I love mustard)
          #2 I'd go with the guacamole and use a queso fresco - probably crumbled right into the guac so it stays put! - not sure about the roasted pepper mayo. The guac would be the "dressing" - can you get piquillo peppers? I'd just add them as is (from the jar)
          #3 bacon does make everything better - how about bacon and a sauteed bitter green? Mustard greens? sharp cheddar?

          1. I think how it's cooked is way more important than the accessories. Over hardwood charcoal, toasted bun...the rest is fru-fru...But save me as little bacon, Kevin!