For the past few years, The James Beard Foundation has sponsored a contest called The Blended Burger Project to entice chefs into making hamburgers by blending ground meat with chopped mushrooms. The result: burgers that are not only delicious, but also healthier and more sustainable for the planet.
Executive Chef Robert Nixon of Toscana’s entered the contest this year, as did his sister restaurant, Eagles Nest (both located in PebbleCreek resort retirement communities in Goodyear). Nixon’s version uses mesquite smoked mushrooms that you can make at home on the barbecue by purchasing mesquite chips at your local hardware store.
The top five vote getters will win a trip to the James Beard House in New York City in 2018 to showcase their blended burgers. New this year, customers who vote for their favorite blended burger online will be entered to also win a trip to the 2018 Blended Burger event. Details at jamesbeard.org.
Toscana's Blended Burger Project Burger
Ingredients (per person)
1 King’s Hawaiian sweet hamburger bun
4.5 oz 80/20 beef
1.5 oz mesquite smoked mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp grilled Roma tomatoes, julienned
1 tbsp watercress, finely julienned
1.5 oz iceberg lettuce, shredded
.5 oz caramelized onion, julienned (prep ahead of time)
1 slice smoked cheddar cheese
2 slices Applewood bacon, crispy
.5 tbsp Arizona cowboy candy (jalapenos and red onions, finely chopped) mixed with 2 tbsp. mayonnaise*
In a cast iron skillet, crisp two strips of bacon and then set a side. Next, toast the bun in the same pan and set aside. Mix the hamburger meat and mushrooms into patties. In the same skillet you cooked the bacon and toasted the bun, pan sear the burger. After it’s cooked to your liking, top with cheese and caramelized onions followed by the bacon. On a separate plate, construct your burger. On the bottom bun, spread the cowboy mayonnaise and top with lettuce and watercress, then tomatoes and the burger. On the top of the bun, spread more candy mayonnaise before placing it atop the sandwich.
*To make the cowboy candy, Nixon says to cook the jalapenos and red onions in simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar with a little apple cider vinegar) and then remove and set aside. Reduce the syrup until thick and then put the jalapenos and onions back in and mix with mayonnaise.
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