Hot hot heat with hamburgers

The battle for the best grilled hamburger! Once again, simple and traditional triumphs.

Game Night 05-20-15: Hot Hot Heat

The contenders:

  • Alan Nudi with Jalapeno Popper Burgers
  • Brian Senesac with Brian’s Burgers

The judges:

  • Andrew Hodges
  • Peggy Hodges
  • Sarah Hodges
  • Kristi LaMonica
  • Tara Nudi

Judged on:

  • Presentation: 10%
  • Juiciness Factor: 10%
  • Structural Integrity: 10%
  • Mouthfeel: 20%
  • Overall Flavor: 50%*

*It was understood that topping choices fell under the overall flavor umbrella.

Alan’s burgers:

Brian’s burgers:

Final score out of 250 points:

  • Alan’s burgers: 230
  • Brian’s burgers: 243

One of the judge’s scoresheets had a tie between the two, with 49 points of 50 for both; another one had a 48 and a 49.

Brian’s burgers earned a perfect score across the board for juiciness, structural integrity, and mouthfeel. 

This was Alan’s first time competing, and Brian’s third – after losing the first two. 

He was happy, to say the least.

Brian’s recipe:

  • Hamburger meat is mixed with Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, sour cream, Ranch dressing mix, and breadcrumbs.
  • Buns were hot dog rolls of the egg bread variety.
  • Potatoes on the side were also cooked on the grill, along with olive oil and sea salt and peppercorn.

Brian’s burgers had no ketchup. No mustard. No lettuce. No tomato. No sliced cheese on top. No condiments or toppings of any kind – just a well seasoned, well cooked burger.

Alan’s recipe:

  • Hamburger meat with Stacy’s Hamburger Seasoning and minced mushrooms.
  • Toppings were sliced Pepper Jack cheese, and jalapeno poppers with Cheddar cheese.
  • Buns were Kaiser rolls, with ketchup on the top, and a jalapeno popper dip on the bottom.

Comments from judges:

  • “I would make [Alan’s burger] if I was feeling like a total fatty.”
  • “If I saw [Alan’s burger] on a restaurant menu, I’d order it. And if this is what I got, I’d be thrilled.”
  • “[Brian’s burger] is so good even just the simple bun distracts from it.”
  • “[Brian’s burger] is what I’d have if I were really craving a burger.”
  • “[Brian’s burger] emphasizes the burger; [Alan’s burger] emphasizes the toppings.”
Tara’s face is indicative of how everyone really felt about both burgers.

Brian made his burgers slider-style, in order to leave the judges wanting more. Alan didn’t wish to skimp on the burger, so his were all full patties.

Although I had to rescind myself from judging because I knew what Alan was making, I of course tried both. Brian’s was just a perfect, perfect burger. He was smart in not having condiments or toppings to let it stand alone – even then, someone commented the bun took away from it!

Happy and excited even before the win.

Alan’s burger is what I’d want if I was craving something different. Sometimes you want just a burger – sometimes you want a whole bunch of stuff on it.

The same could be said of many food items. Say, pizza. Sometimes I’m really feeling pizza, as in, just a cheese pizza. Sometimes, I want broccoli and ricotta cheese and garlic or I want pepperoni and sausage and bacon. Thus is the difference between Brian’s simple-in-its-perfection burger, and Alan’s jalapeno-popper-topped burger.

The other thing about Alan’s worth mentioning is that I am not personally a big jalapeno popper fan. I have a like-don’t-love relationship with them, wherein I enjoy one once in awhile, but if there are other appetizers available I probably wouldn’t reach for a popper. That being said, I still thought the burger was beyond excellent.

And, surprisingly, they weren’t too spicy either. Obviously, they were some, but the flavor of the burger still came through; the poppers and popper dip did not detract away from that, I don’t think.

Up next game night: We actually have several coming up! A chicken competition, a fruit/vegetable bread, and homemade ice cream! Contenders are still being discussed, but I can tell you that yours truly will be cooking chicken and baking bread.