This cookbook has a copyright of 2005. I bought this cookbook at Barnes & Noble for about seven bucks in the discount section. I have not cooked from this before.
I had no idea that Sutter Home wines had a burger contest every year. Probably because the contest is NOT open to Californians. Yes, the winery is in California, but something about the laws here mean we can't enter. Go figure. This contest has been going on for almost twenty years in the Napa Valley. And the Grand Prize for the best burger each year? $50,000. That would buy a whole lot of burgers.
This cookbook marked the 15th Anniversary of the burger cook-off. It includes each of the 44 recipes that have won awards since the Build a Better Burger contest started. Some of the chefs and cookbook authors who have judged the cook-off also have recipes in the book. Sutters culinary director and executive chef, Jeffrey Starr, suggests a wine match for each recipe and offers general burger and wine pairing tips.
The book starts with a brief history of Sutter Home, the contest and burgers in general. The book is organized by year. Each year highlights that years winning burger recipe/s. There are a few pages about the judges and then a list of the judges, the year they judged and a brief bio of each (past judges include Joey Altman, Jan Birnbaum, Flo Baker, Marion Cunningham, Thomas Keller, Sheila Lukins, Cindy Pawlcyn, and Barbara Tropp). There is a section of burgers from a handful of the judges and a section on guidelines for building a better burger (which includes contest guidelines). There is also a list of the winners and finalists from 1990 through 2004.
There are photos of every burger. Great photos. Yummy looking photos. I dare anyone to pick up this cookbook and not start craving a burger. I found the index lacking as it only highlighted recipes. I would have liked to have had one that went by ingredient since the burgers are so ingredient driven.
And by ingredient driven I mean lots of ingredients. You don't just get some meat with a topping. You get a burger comprised of ground beef, Australian crystallized ginger, White Zin, soy sauce, mirin, spices and a topping of Grilled Jicama and Onion (that's for the Gingered-Beef Burgers). There are ingredients that might not be easy to find in local markets....dried black Chinese mushrooms, duck sauce...but I could honestly find most of the ingredients listed in my gourmet market. And the patties are made from ground beef, ground sirloin, turkey, chicken, lamb, tuna...even beans.
But the thing to remember is that these aren't burgers you're going to whip up when you get home from work. They're gourmet burgers which are going to take some time to prep and more ingredients and instructions than normal burgers (the recipe for Mini Duck Burgers with Shiitake Mushroom Ketchup and Hot-Sweet Mustard Sauce has 37 ingredients for marinade, patties, ketchup and sauce).
But the burgers do sound awesome and some don't look like they would take that much to make. Spicy Sausage Burgers with Roasted Pepper Relish, Peppered Jamaican Jerk Burgers, Mediterranean Tuna Burgers with Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise, Green Chile Chicken Burgers with Orange-Chili Mayonnaise and Three-Pepper Cheese Spread, Carolina Pork Barbecue Burgers, Hawaiian Tuna Burgers with Maui Wowee Salsa. Seriously, while I doubt I'll ever make all these burgers, I'd certainly go to a restaurant that served these and try them all.
For more information about the Build a Better Burger contest go here. The contest has closed for this year but you can find more recent recipes and maybe try out for next year!
Please ignore the cat in the photo. She decided it was time to play fetch when I was taking the cookbook photos.