Battle of the Burgers: Red, white and blueberry burger from Brooks Walker of Folsom, Calif.
We received nearly 90 entries in our first-ever Battle of the Burgers. Readers voted for their favorites, and we took the top 20 vote-getters and went to work in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen. We're printing our five favorites in the June 30 Food section, just in time for your 4th of July barbecue planning. (But for those who just can't wait, we'll post one burger recipe a day on the blog this week.)
Red, white and blueberry burger
Total time: 1½ hours, plus rising and cooling times
Note: From Brooks Walker of Folsom, Calif., who recommends serving the burger with a nicely hopped American pale ale. This recipe requires the use of a stand mixer to make the buns.
Get the recipe after the jump.
Brown sugar burger buns
3 1/4 cups (14.6 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup warm (120 to 130 degrees) milk
1/4 cup (½ stick) salted butter, melted
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup of the flour, the yeast and the sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add the heated milk, mixing to combine, then add the butter. Continue to mix over medium speed for two to three minutes to begin to develop the dough. Add the egg and beat for an additional minute to combine.
2. Switch to the dough hook, scraping down the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated. Over low speed, gradually add the remaining flour, one spoonful at a time. Continue to mix for several minutes to develop the dough -- the dough will be smooth and elastic, and should clean the sides of the bowl.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough in the bowl to oil the top of the dough. Cover and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces (each slightly more than 4 ounces). Shape each piece into a ball, gathering the seams at the bottom of the ball and pinching them together to form a smooth round. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, evenly spaced. Gently flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to form a disk about 4 inches in diameter. (If the dough springs back, leave it alone for a minute or so while you flatten the other balls to give the dough a chance to relax.)
5. Cover the mounds loosely with plastic wrap and set aside until puffed and nearly doubled in height, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Bake the buns until puffed and set, and golden brown on top, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the buns from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer the buns to a cooling rack to cool completely. The buns can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. Use a serrated knife to halve horizontally before using.
Blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles (about three chiles)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle chile can)
5 rounded tablespoons blueberry jam or preserves
In a food processor, combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, garlic, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce and blueberry jam. Purée all the ingredients until very smooth. This makes about 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, which will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 rounded teaspoon fresh ground sea salt
1/2 rounded teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 rounded teaspoon Creole-type seasoning (like Tony Chachere's or Emeril's Essence)
1/4 cup rendered bacon fat or oil
1 white onion, peeled and sliced very thin (about 1/16 inch) into strings or rings
1. In a large plastic bag, combine the flour, baking powder, sea salt, pepper and Creole seasoning, shaking to thoroughly mix together. Add the onions and shake to coat. Transfer the onions to a bowl, tapping off any excess flour mixture.
2. In a cast-iron skillet heated over medium-high heat until hot, add the bacon fat. When the fat is hot, add the onions in small batches, frying until crisp and golden brown, three to five minutes per batch. Drain the onions on a paper towel and set aside.
Moist mesquite wood chips in a smoker device (or foil pouch) for the grill, if using an outdoor grill
Ground chuck hamburger patties (formed to match the width of the bun), seasoned with garlic salt and fresh cracked black pepper
15 ounces blue cheese, preferably Point Reyes blue, sliced
Brown sugar burger buns, sliced in half
Blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce
Fresh tomato slices
Curly red leaf lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. If using a grill, fit a smoker device (or foil pouch) with the mesquite wood chips to smoke while grilling.
2. Oil the grill top and add the burgers. Grill the burgers on each side until cooked through to desired doneness, eight to 12 minutes. Top the burgers with cheese and continue to grill just until the cheese melts, one to two minutes.
3. When the burgers are almost finished grilling, toast the buns: Place the buns, cut side down, on the grill to lightly toast. Remove the burgers and buns.
4. Assemble the burgers: Dress the cut sides (top and bottom) of each burger with a good spread of barbecue sauce. Top each bun bottom with a burger patty. Top the cheese with another dollop of barbecue sauce, then divide the onions, mounding a pile of onions over each burger. Top each mound of onions with a slice of tomato, followed with two to three leaves of lettuce. Top each burger with a bun top and serve immediately.
Each burger: 1,001 calories; 59 grams protein; 86 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 46 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 175 mg. cholesterol; 20 grams sugar; 1,812 mg. sodium.
-- Rene Lynch
Photo credit: Brooks Walker / CakeWalker