Our fourth of five finalists is Christopher Lucchese of Echo Park. With his steakhouse burger, "you can have your steak dinner served on a delicious soft bun." He writes:
"There is nothing better than a great rib-eye steak. It is probably my most favorite cut of beef, and makes a tremendous burger. Nothing says summer more than one grilling over an open fire. Now imagine you can have an entire steak dinner served on a delicious soft bun. Now mix in great steak sides, caramelized onions, a mushroom reduction, and homemade steak sauce. It is the ultimate summer delicacy. A rib-eye steak in a handheld delivery system!!"
This year, we received almost 50 submissions from readers and grill-masters across the U.S. and Canada. We asked you to vote for your top 20, and then we got down to testing.
Over 48 hours, we shopped (using a seven-page grocery list), prepped, cooked and grilled our hearts out testing a whole host of burgers (our Test Kitchen went through more than 20 pounds of meat alone, including hand-ground sirloin and salmon).
The results were judged by the Food staff, including editor Russ Parsons, restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, deputy editor Betty Hallock, Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter and Web producer Jenn Harris.
The five finalists and their recipes will be featured in the Saturday section on June 29. In the meantime, we'll be giving a daily shout-out to each on our blog. Congratulations all!
3 1/2 hours. Serves 6
2 1/2 pounds ground rib-eye steak (grind yourself, or have the butcher grind for you)
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon powdered onion, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon powdered garlic, or to taste
1 egg, beaten
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground steak with the salt, several grinds of pepper, the powdered onion and garlic powders, beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and Parmesan cheese. Mix the ingredients together until combined, careful not to overwork. Cover and refrigerate the meat for 30 to 40 minutes to give the flavors time to permeate the meat.
2. Divide the mixture and form into 6 patties, making sure to indent the center of each patty so it does not plump up on the grill. Crack a little more black pepper over each patty and refrigerate until ready to grill.
6 to 8 sweet onions, preferably Maui
Extra-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1. Halve the onions and thinly slice. Place the onions in a bowl and toss with enough olive oil to lightly coat.
2. Warm a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add one-fourth cup olive oil and when the oil just starts to shimmer, add the onions. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring infrequently.
3. After about 20 minutes, stir in one-half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, along with the sugar. Cook an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the onions begin to caramelize, and their volume has reduced by more than half, 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from heat and remove the onions, leaving any leftover bits and juices in the pan (the pan will be used to make the steak sauce).
2 pounds mixed Crimini and Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Madeira wine
In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter and oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and garlic, cooking until the shallot is nearly translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and season with one teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper, or to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 hours until the mushrooms are soft and reduced in volume by over half. Add the wine and, off heat, carefully light a match over the wine to burn off the alcohol. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently, to give the flavors time to combine. Remove from heat and place the mushrooms in a bowl.
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup Heinz 57 sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon prepared wasabi
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Cracked black pepper
1 cup Madeira wine
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, Heinz 57 sauce, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, soy sauce, yellow mustard, wasabi, Sriracha, chile powder, onion powder, 10 grinds of black pepper and salt to taste to make the steak sauce base.
2. In the pan used to caramelize the onions, warm up the leftover bits over medium heat. When warm, add the wine and scrape any flavorings from the bottom and sides of the pan.
3. When the wine is warm, add the steak sauce base and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat so the sauce bubbles gently and cook, stirring frequently, for at least 20 minutes to marry the flavors. Remove from heat. This makes a generous 2 cups steak sauce, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The steak sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 2 weeks.
6 soft but dense burger buns or rolls
1. Remove the burgers from the refrigerator and set aside, away from direct sunlight in a cool place, to come to room temperature for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the grill.
2. Halve the burger buns and brush the bottoms with steak sauce.
3. Grill the burgers, brushing the tops with steak sauce after they are flipped. Just before the burgers are finished, add the buns to lightly toast. When the burgers are done, remove and rest under aluminum foil for about 10 minutes.
4. Add a large scoop of mushrooms to the bottom of each bun. Place a burger over the mushrooms and top with caramelized onions, then the bun top. Serve immediately.
To whet your appetite for the remaining finalists, here's a super-fast look at all the burgers we tasted.