It takes more than juicy patties, tender buns and tasty condiments to top the competition in this backyard burger contest.
From-scratch toppings — relish, mayonnaise, guacamole — earn top marks in the Los Angeles Times Battle of the Burgers. Slathered with caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms, seasoned with curry paste and wine reductions, this year's entries are no different.
The extra flavor, of course, also comes with extra calories: 1,200, in some cases. And preparation will take some extra minutes in the kitchen. But when burgermeisters grow bored with the basics, these combinations put a fresh spin on ground meat in a bun.
Garnering submissions from all over the country, the Times tallied thousands of votes to narrow the choices to 20 top burgers. The best recipes then were put to task in the newspaper's Test Kitchen with results judged by Food section editors and staff. After days of testing and exhaustive judging, they came up with a few favorites.
Repeat winners in the third annual contest include Christopher Lucchese, who reprised rib-eye steak for his patty, this time distilling an entire steakhouse dinner onto a bun.
"A rib-eye steak in a hand-held delivery system!" says the resident of Echo Park, Calif., whose BLT&E landed in the winner's circle last year.
Jalapenos again punctuated Richard Amiel's winning burger. The Santa Cruz, Calif., resident who served up the H-Bomb Burger in last year's competition sweetened this year's Texas Luau Burger with grilled pineapple.
"This burger rocks (or should I say hulas)! It's a knockout!"
Other winners are the Green Curry Chicken Burger and Hoad's Hot Jalapeno Burger.
Download previous years' winning recipes from our free, online Recipe Box, a searchable database of more than 3,700 dishes. Go to www.mailtribune.com/recipes for Buffalo-Cambozola Burger, German-Cuban Pork Burger, The Howie Burger, Italian Caprese Sliders, Mexican Cemita Burgers, Southwest Turkey Burger and Taste of Italy Turkey Burger. Type the title of each into the page's search field.