For our nation's birthday, our friends and I celebrated an American invention with a little friendly competition: a Burger Cook-Off in our back yard! The hamburger was first created in 1900 at Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, and was popularized at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. This past Saturday, we showed Louis how far we've come since then with our own creative combinations!
Pictured Above: sparkler sets that I made for everyone and jars for catching lightning bugs once the sun went down, both pretty good ways to light up the night.
We started the shindig with all-American snacks, drinks, and yard games. Below: boiled South Carolina peanuts (regular & cajun), locally-famous Hatcher Crackers, refrigerator pickles, and drunken watermelon, which hadn't yet arrived. Refreshments: Roasted Peach Lemonade with South Carolina Peaches from Bush-n-Vine Farm, spiked with a little gin and then Smoked Sweet Tea, sweetened with Kentucky sorghum and spiked with bourbon and a dash of homemade bitters. I let everyone spike their own drinks, so that I could also leave them the option of mixing the two for an Arnold Palmer, my favorite interpretation of these ingredients.
The Cook-Off: Everyone paired up in teams of two (with a few people choosing to compete solo) to create their own featured flavor. Everyone had total control over every element of their burger, including type of meat/protein, bun, and toppings/condiments. Each burger was cut into individual bites so that everyone could sample and vote on their top three. Each team paid $5 to enter, and the winner went home with the cash - $60 worth! Every burger was delicious and well planned, but the winner was our friend, Jessica, whose concoction featured both ground beef and pork, a fried green tomato, bacon pimento cheese, remoulade and a morel cream sauce all on a homemade rosemary brioche bun. Yum!
A little presidential-themed photo booth fun!
Paul and I were so happy to spend the day
with our great group of friends!
- - - Our Burger: The Italian - - -
makes 4 burgers
1 lb. your favorite local, grass-fed ground beef
100 g. baby bella mushrooms, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Worcestershire
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
lots of cracks fresh black pepper
Combine all the above and shape into 4 patties for the grill.
Note: I like to throw my mushrooms and garlic in the chopper.
mix of equal parts dijon and mayo
your favorite cheese
2 lrg. yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 T. fig balsamic vinegar
Saute onions in a little olive oil until transparent and slightly browned. Add balsamic and cook for a few minutes more. Reserve for topping your burger.
Building Your Burger:
Add cheese after taking your burger off the grill, and tent with aluminum foil or a plate to melt cheese and let meat rest.
Spray hamburger buns with olive oil and grill until toasty while meat rests. We used homemade English muffins for our buns.
Spread the dijon/mayo mixture on one side of bun, and layer on your other toppings (spinach, apples, prosciutto, and onions). Add your hamburger and enjoy!