Enter Sutter Homes Build a Better Burger Contest

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Kim Jones Over-the-Top Truffled Burger is a finalist in Sutter Homes Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest. The winner will be announced May 17 at a cook-off competition.

Oh, man — how could I have missed entering this contest? That was my reaction when I received an email announcing the 10 finalists in Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger Contest.

Ten lucky people were chosen to put their burger creation to the test and compete for more than $120,000 in prizes at a May 17 cook-off at the Sutter Home Winery in St. Helena, Calif.

My competitive side believes I could have been a contender, if I had only entered the competition. My realistic side knows you can’t win if you don’t enter, so let’s learn from what the finalists present and be ready for the next year’s competition. You — or I — could be a winner, just like Erin Evenson of New York, who won the competition in 2013 with her 7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burger.

For more than 20 years, Sutter Home has been pairing one of America’s favorite foods — the burger — with their wines.

“Wine used to be saved for special occasions, but Sutter Home changed the way consumers think, and the way they drink. The Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest is another way to incorporate wine into everyday occasions,” said Wendy Nyberg, vice president of marketing for Sutter Home.

Entrants were encouraged to showcase their favorite foods and regional influences. The contest has two categories, beef and alternative burgers. Entrants in the beef category compete for a $100,000 prize and entrants in the alternative (chicken, turkey, pork, fish, veggie, etc.) compete for a $15,000 prize.

Here are this year’s finalists, who will compete May 17:

Chipotle Bacon Maple Jam Burgers With Creamy Blue Cheese and Pear, Spinach and Hazelnut Salad.

Lone Star Hoss Burgers With Smoky Bacon Cheese Spread and Apricot and Onion Jam.

Over-the-Top Truffled Burgers With Caramelized Balsamic Onion Jam, Roasted Garlic Aioli and Goat Cheese.

Mexicali Burgers With Esquites and Pepita Crema.

Savory French Toasted Burgers with Seasoned Arugula, Bacon-Shallot Chevre and Merlot Mustard.

Barbados Tuna Burgers With Caramelized Orange and Ginger-Garlic Aioli.

Sour Apple Pork Burgers With Cheddar Cheese, Cayenne-Apple-Candied Bacon and Potato Chip-Onion Haystacks.

Red Lantern Lemongrass-Glazed Chicken Burgers With Shiitake Mushrooms and Sriracha Mayo.

German Currywurst Burgers With Tomato Curry-Ginger Jam, Curry-Glazed Pork Skins and Sweet Pepper, Apple and Fennel Slaw.

Chicken Dressed as Duck Burgers With Spiced Cherry Mostarda and Orange-Thyme Aioli.

Now is the time to start preparing your recipes for next year’s contest. Entries will be accepted from April 1 through Sept. 9. Prizes for the 2014 contest include $100,000 for the winning beef burger grand prize and $15,000 for the winning alternative burger grand prize. An additional $6,000 in prizes will be awarded for the People’s Choice Award Burgers, which are selected by cook-off attendees.

Space prohibits me from printing all the recipes.

To inspire you, I’ve included one beef burger finalist recipe today, but you can access all the recipes online at Download the rules from the site, too.

I don’t want to be tagged a poor loser, so I wish all the finalists good luck. Just know I’ll be pulling out all the stops in creating a winner for next year’s competition.

Bon Appétit! Make eating an adventure!

Over-the-Top Truffled Burgers

Pair with merlot

Serves 6

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Aioli

7 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, preferably Maille

1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s (Best Foods)

Caramelized Balsamic Onion Jam

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large red onion, quartered and sliced thinly

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar

Watercress Salad

7 ounces watercress leaves, stems discarded

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons good-quality infused (not chemically flavored) white truffle oil, preferably Tartuflanghe

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, preferably Maille

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch ground black pepper


2 teaspoons truffle salt, preferably Tartuflanghe

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon toasted onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 pounds 80/20 ground chuck

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces plain goat cheese, cut into 6 equal rounds about 3/8-inch thick

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

6 onion hamburger buns, preferably Rosen’s

18 slices cooked, thick-cut smoked bacon, sliced crosswise in half


Heat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the aioli, toss the garlic on a 9-inch-square piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Crimp the foil shut to create a foil packet, place on the grill rack and roast for 7 minutes. Open the packet slightly, toss the cloves a bit, close again, and continue to roast until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes more. Chop the roasted garlic well and transfer to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, the lemon juice, rosemary, mustard and mayonnaise and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the jam, place a fireproof skillet on the grill rack or side burner set to medium-high. Add the butter and melt. Add the onion and sauté until most of the moisture has cooked off, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes. Increase the grill heat to high. Add the vinegar and cook until syrupy and reduced slightly. Keep warm.

To make the salad, place the watercress in a bowl and refrigerate until assembling the burgers. In a small bowl, combine the oils, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk to mix the vinaigrette thoroughly. Set aside.

To make the patties, heat the grill to the highest setting. In a large bowl, combine the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Add the beef and, using a large spoon, combine well. Form into 6 equal patties. Brush both sides with the oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to 500 F and grill for 3 minutes longer. Flip the patties and add a disc of goat cheese to the top of each. Cover and cook until the patties are done, about 3 minutes longer for medium. Spread the softened cheese evenly over each patty. Remove to a plate and tent with foil.

Meanwhile, mix the 3 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic powder and brush the mixture on the cut sides of the buns. Place on the grill, cover and cook until toasted lightly.

To assemble the burgers, toss 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette with the chilled watercress (save remainder for another use). Divide the onion jam evenly on the bun bottoms. To each, add 3 pieces of the bacon, a patty and 1/6 of the salad. Spread 1 tablespoon of the aioli on each bun top and place on the burgers. Serve immediately.

Kim Jones, finalist

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

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