As surprising as this may sound, I don’t actually watch a lot of cooking shows on television. I am admittedly obsessed with Top Chef, but I have never really gotten into the other various cooking competition shows on the Food Network. The format of cooking reality tv is always the same- there’s a challenge with a specific ingredient that the contestants do not know of beforehand, and there is a time limit to finish one’s dish. Sometimes contestant’s are classically trained chefs, sometimes they are home cooks, sometimes the two compete against one another. But the format doesn’t change much, and it just get’s repetitive after awhile. But I have to say, I am so into this new show on the Esquire Network The Next Great Burger. Mostly because everyone involved seems to be having such a good time. The concept is simple- three people are chosen to come and cook their signature burgers for a group of 60 people. The contestants range from classically trained chefs, to food truck owners, to serious home cooks. There is no time limit- all that matters is who can makes the best burger, not how fast any one contestant can feed the masses. The show is filmed at a bar, and the 60 people assembled drink freely throughout the entire show, chat with the contestants while they cook, and just overall seem like they are having an awesome time. It is technically a contest, but the “Judges” always give positive feedback, and the atmosphere is more like a party. If I were going to choose food contest to enter, I would want to enter that one.
Some of the burgers that people come up with are super creative. Some sound disgusting, but given the crowd’s reaction, must taste better than they look. Other contestants put a higher focus on their meat, and keep their burger’s simple. Using bacon as an ingredient is a popular choice, for obvious reasons. After watching several episodes, I decided that I needed my own signature burger. I wanted to create something tasty, but unique. I wanted to come up with burger toppings that were a little more original than bacon or a fried egg (not that I don’t love both) but that weren’t too foofy to win a burger competition. And so, after much thought, I think I have nailed it. My Next Great Burger worthy creation. A burger that is spicy, and flavorful and unique.
I present to you- my spicy jalapeno burger, stuffed with hatch cheddar cheese, and topped with roasted red pepper, deep fried tomatillos, and spicy mayo on a brioche bun. BOOM. Drop the mic. This burger is a winner.
I love this burger for so many reason. The seasoned meat- a combination of ancho chilli powder, smoked paprika, and a little bit of ground pepper plus diced up a jalapeno peppers- gives the burger a kick without being overpowering.
I wanted to stuff my burger with cheese, because I think it is neat to bite into a piece of meat that literally oozes cheese. A cheddar or pepper jack cheese would be tasty but my local market was giving out samples of this hatch pepper specialty cheese and I immediately thought that it would be perfect. To stuff my burgers I formed a small patty, about 2-3 oz, and made a small well to fit the cheese I had shredded earlier. I then made a second small patty and placed it over the top, and sealed the two burgers together to make one.
I love roasted red bell peppers and wish that were a more common burger topping. While I was forming my burger patties, I put my bell pepper under the broiler until it had turned black. It is important to do this step early, so the bell pepper has time to cool, so that you can peel it!
Once my burgers were formed, I put them in the refrigerator, and then got to frying my tomatillos. Originally, I had wanted to do a big slice of fried green tomato on my burger, but alas, I missed green tomato season. I wanted something else that would give my burger a good, tart flavor, and spotted some tomatillos, so I decided- why not? They are basically tiny green tomatoes anyway, right? I have never fried a tomatillo, but I figured the results had to be about the same.
For the most part, my experiment as a success. I unfortunately forgot that I was out of cornmeal, so I had to change my plans and bread my little tomatillo slices with panko crumbs instead. A lot of the crumbs fell off- cornmeal would have been better- but overall, the frying of tomatillos worked! I dipped each slice into egg and then the panko, and them fried them on both sides for a few minutes until crispy.
The last thing I did to prepare all of my toppings was make my spicy mayo. I used to think that mayonnaise was a great condiment, but after I started dressing it up, I don’t really like it “plain” anymore. It is just so easy to take plain old mayo and turn it into a sauce bursting with flavor. I mix about 1/4 of a cup of mayo, with a tablespoon or 2 of horseradish sauce. Then I mix in a good shake of garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne. The amounts of each spice can be altered to suit one’s individual taste. Seriously- this sauce takes the burger over the top.
And then, all I had to do was get my burgers on the grill! I cooked mine about 4 minutes on each side. I also toasted my brioche buns on the grill. It is important to watch those carefully- I left mine on for 1 minute, and they were already a little crispy around the edges. Thirty seconds is probably plenty of time.
And voila! All that is left is the assembly. I put a smear of spicy mayo on the bottom bun, followed by the burger, roasted red pepper, and three tomatillo slices! There are just enough toppings to be interesting, but not so many that you can’t fit the entire sandwich into your mouth at once. I was super proud of my creation, and would highly recommend that others give it is a try.
Have a favorite burger recipe? Let me know in the comments!