The results are in! We had so many great submissions for this year's battle, it was hard to come up with our five finalists. But we did. We're featuring one finalist and top recipe every day. Our first is Richard Amiel from Santa Cruz. Needless to say, his Texas Luau Burger rocks. Here's what he wrote:
“Texas barbecue meets Hawaiian luau. The Texas Luau Burger! Your taste buds will get the best of both worlds: the sweet Hawaiian pineapple, the tanginess of the teriyaki barbecue sauce, the saltiness of the hickory-smoked bacon and the heat filled jalapenos all balanced by the sharp goat cheddar cheese. This burger rocks (or should I say hulas)! It's a knockout! Burger aficionados will be climbing Diamond Head and singing Yippee-I-O-Aloha!”
This year we received almost 50 submissions from readers and grill-masters nationwide, 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 over 20 pounds of meat alone, including hand-ground sirloin and salmon).
The top five recipes and finalists 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!
Texas Luau Burger
1 hour. Serves 4
1 pound ground chuck
4 Kings Sweet Hawaiian hamburger buns, or regular hamburger buns
Teriyaki barbecue sauce (1 cup teriyaki sauce mixed with 1 cup barbecue sauce)
8 slices thick hickory-smoked bacon
4 slices Hawaiian pineapple
4 jalapeno peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
4 slices goat cheddar cheese, or other cheddar cheese
Manoa or butter lettuce, for garnish (optional)
Maui or Vidalia onion slices, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the grill. If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high. Cover for 10 minutes, then adjust the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, open the vents on the bottom of grill and light a large chimney starter full of charcoal. When the coals are covered with white-gray ash (about 20 to 30 minutes), spread them out on grill's bottom rack, leaving a space to one side that is equal to the size of the food to be grilled so that it can be moved there in case of flare-ups.
2. Gently form ground chuck into four (3/4-inch-thick) burger patties; each patty should be about 4 inches in diameter. Chill the burgers on a wax paper-lined plate, covered, until ready to grill.
3. Grill the buns, cut side down, on the main grilling grate until grill marks appear, 30 seconds to a minute. Brush the cut side of the buns with teriyaki barbecue sauce and remove from grill.
4. Place the patties, bacon, pineapple slices and jalapenos on the grill, brushing them with teriyaki barbecue sauce. When each is done on one side (timing will vary depending on the item; the burgers will be ready after about 5 minutes), flip over and continue cooking, brushing the other side with teriyaki barbecue sauce.
5. Place a slice of grilled pineapple on top of each patty, still on the grill. Top each pineapple slice with two slices of jalapeno peppers. Brush with additional teriyaki barbecue sauce. Place a slice of goat cheddar cheese on each patty. Close the grill and continue to cook just until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.
6. To assemble the burgers, place each patty on a hamburger bun bottom and with two slices of crisp bacon, garnishing if desired with lettuce and onion. Place the top bun on each burger, and serve with additional teriyaki barbecue sauce on the side.
Note: From Richard Amiel of Santa Cruz
To whet your appetite for the remaining finalists, here's a super-fast look at all the burgers we tasted.
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