Perhaps your idea of a great burger is a lightly seasoned quarter pound beef patty that’s grilled, topped with Wisconsin cheese, and dipped in ketchup.
Or maybe it’s pork between two donut halves.
Whatever your preference, a Madison grocery group is asking people to submit their best burger recipes by August 8 for a chance to win a $ 1,000 chance at their first Burgers & Brew Recipe Showdown in 2021.
The competition is sponsored by REAP Food Group, a nonprofit whose mission is to make ethically grown food accessible and accessible to everyone, said Noah Bloedorn, the group’s manager of Farm Fresh Atlas. The Farm Fresh Atlas is a publication that REAP publishes to help consumers find trusted local food sources that are known for ethically growing their food.
Entrants are assessed on taste, appearance, use of Wisconsin grown or manufactured ingredients, creativity, and desire. A jury made up of REAP members and food partners will determine the winner on August 9th.
“They will use their knowledge of flavor profiles to assess the flavor aspect of the rubric,” said Bloedorn. “However, once the jury has determined a top tier of burgers, they will cook the finalists to make a final decision.”
The winner will be announced on August 15th along with the menu for a fundraising event taking place on Saturday August 28th at the Capital Brewery in Middleton. At the Burgers & Brew: Drive Thru event, attendees will have the opportunity to try the competition’s burgers, although not necessarily the winner’s.
“The burgers chosen for the menu will (are) scalable and have broad appeal to our audiences,” he said.
Bloedorn said this was a spin-off of an annual fundraising event, Burgers and Brew, that connects shoppers with Wisconsin manufacturers and showcases farmers, cheese makers and brewers across the state.
Typically, chefs like Evan Dannells – owner of Cadre Restaurant in Madison – serve their burger wonders at the event. But this year, Dannells changes roles to become a judge in this competition that brings the burger challenge to the public.
“COVID presented an interesting challenge,” said Bloedorn. “So we wanted to bring it to the average local foodie.”
Participants will submit their burger recipes and pictures or videos of their creations for review by the jury.
What makes a good burger?
Dannells said a big part of making a good burger is using good quality ground beef.
“A cheaper ground beef is usually a lot like ground round, that’s the leanest part of the animal mixed with fat from another part of the animal,” he said.
This isn’t as good as ground beef or beef tenderloin, which Dannells said were spicier and more appealing in texture.
Dannells believes that burgers should be balanced – they should be moist, but not too moist, with a reasonable amount of acid and salt.
Think about the bun too, he said.
“I think people often overlook bread as an important part of a burger,” he said. “Having a really good bun is really important.”
While Dannells doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with a simple hamburger, which he thinks can be “a pretty nice thing,” cooking burgers is a great opportunity to get creative.
“The sky really is the limit,” he said. “There is not much that is forbidden in the hamburger world. I am never shocked when I see something crazy on a hamburger.”
Yes, veggie burgers count
Feel free to submit your veggie burger recipes too, Bloedorn said.
While making your own veggie burgers can sound intimidating, Dannells says they’re actually quite easy to make.
His veggie burger recipe focuses on highlighting the vegetables. Burgers that taste like meat substitutes just aren’t that good, he said.
“I have a feeling that the whole ‘impossible meat’ thing – a kind of fake meat – puts a lot of vegetarians off,” he said. “Besides, it’s the middle of summer right now, so I want to show vegetables wherever I can.”
Dannell’s recipe uses lentils as protein and brown rice as starch. The lentils and rice are cooked together in a flavorful broth and then mixed with oatmeal and any vegetable he likes.
“I mean, if I were to make a composed burger with this effect, I would probably want to repeat a lot of the flavors I will have in the spice of the toppings in the burger,” he said. “But the world is somehow at your feet … Veggie burgers can be even more diverse than normal hamburgers.”
Making your own vegetarian burgers is often cheaper than buying them, Dannells said; It is also an opportunity to add fresh ingredients.
They are also not very time consuming. Dannell’s recipe takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, he said.
“And most of it is just things simmering in a saucepan.”