Located in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, a two-hour drive from Ottawa and a little over an hour…
A gourmet burger recipe from the 2013 World Food Championships, the “Eh One” Candied Canuck Burger was my turn in for the World Burger Championship finals in Las Vegas using the secret ingredient, A.1. Steak Sauce.
Steak sauce is not a huge stretch for a burger. It’s designed for beef and the grill, but it’s a flavor that can overpower the taste buds. A.1. is a big brand in the USA, but in Canada the closest we come to A1 Steak Sauce is Kraft’s HP Sauce. This presented it’s own challenges in a fast-paced competition environment. So my first task was to grab a bottle and taste it, to get an idea how to compliment it’s flavor and give it a bit of spin.
With A1’s peppery,acidic base and tangy tamarind accent, my first instinct was to sweeten and mellow the flavour. At the World Burger Championships you have a 2 hour window before you turn in your creation to the judges. Your plate will be judged on execution, appearance, and taste. Taste accounts for 50% of your mark, so while it needs to be technically on the money, and plated perfectly, that burger has to TASTE GOOD. I wanted to give the judges a harmonious mouthful, packed with flavour with a hint of home. So I picked up a big bottle of maple syrup and set out to rock it, Canadian style.
There were elements of the original recipe that filed on site, despite the best efforts of team mate Diane Meagher, who ran it back and forth to the reefer truck in hopes of a magical outcome. The plan was to top the burger with a crunchy, sponge toffee crumble on top of the sweetened sauce, Canadian bacon and aged cheddar (thus the name “Candied Canuck”). Competition hiccup: while en route in the below freezing luggage compartment, my candy thermometer developed a bubble in transit and was not rising above 89°F. Looking back I’m pretty sure I over boiled it, because it became a thick, sticky mess instead of a crunchy, light foam. When used against the hot, sticky sauce covered bacon, it melted into the sauce and created a thick, candy coating on the Canadian bacon that the judges found overwhelming.
So… let’s skip that. The rest – a marriage of sweet, savory, tart & acidic – stays. The “Eh One” Candied Candied Canuck is my tongue in cheek tribute to Canadian flavour and Quebec cuisine. If I could have found them I would have featured cheese curds rather than cheddar cheese. Go ahead, try to find cheese curds in Vegas… I dare you.
Cheese curds: solid parts of soured milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes (I.e. poutine), mostly in Quebec (Canada) and the northeastern and midwestern United States.
Team Food Gypsy was delighted to finish 5th overall in our first food sport event and thrilled to be included in the World Food Championships Show on A&E’s new network FYI TV in the USA. Sadly, the show is not currently available in Canada but you can find all kinds of video content and great recipes including this one and the A.1. El Toro Burger by World Burger Champion Wade Fortin on their website: www.fyi.tv/shows/world-food-championships. Be sure to check out the recipes from the World Bacon Championships… lip smackingly good!
And for our American readers, you can catch the World Food Championships on FYI via your cable or satellite provider Thursday nights at 10pm ET.
The “Eh One” Candied Canuck Burger
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 burgers
3 lbs Ground Beef
1/3 cup A.1. Steak Sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
6 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup minced white onions
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup A.1. Steak Sauce
24 slices Canadian Bacon
Cheese Curds or Aged Canadian Cheddar
Arugula (or dandelion greens)
Tangerine Zest (or orange zest)
1. Combine beef, 1/3 cup A.1. and ketchup plus thyme, chives, garlic, onions, salt, pepper and bread crumbs in large bowl and mix until well incorporated and form into quarter pound patties.
2. Chill at least 10 minutes. Allowing time to rest and bread crumbs to become absorbed by meat mixture.
3. For the sauce: in a sauce pan, reduce maple syrup by about a quarter over high heat then add 1 cup ketchup and 1 cup of the steak sauce. Reduce sauce further, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
4. Heat grill to 400°F, and sear the first side for about 2 minutes before your first quarter turn. While the burgers are cooking, gently cook the Canadian bacon in a large sauce pan, coating the bacon with the sauce to begin to candy the pork. Finish on grill to crisp as desired.
5. Grill thick slices of tomato, brushed liberally coated with maple steak sauce. Brush green onions with olive oil and char. If desired, toss Arugula with Tangerine zest (and squeeze of juice) and a pinch of salt & pepper.
6. Layer – Cheese, Green Onions, Arugula, Mayo, Tomatoes and Sourdough buns – to create the Candied Canuck Burger.
Gypsy burger note: Take your burger to the next level with a custom grind. Be sure to allow a blend of bold, lean and fatty cuts. My choice of a custom grind for this burger: 40% Sirloin, 30% Hanger Steak and 30% Short Rib. This grind will give you a deep, rich flavour and little shrinkage, also ground fresh, it serves beautifully at medium (internal temperature 130° – 135°F /55° – 57°C ). However, if you’re using a regular grind, straight off the shelf, be sure to be food safe and cook to 160° – 165ºF /70° – 72°C.
PHOTO CREDIT: top photo provided by World Food Championships.