Thursday, September 18, 2014

Battle of the Burger Nashville, TN

   My friend Steve and I love burgers! I mean beyond a normal love, it might be an obsession. So when we heard they were having a Battle of the Burger competition, hosted by the Nashville Lifestyles magazine, we were so in. Nashville has a huge amount of burger restaurants and restaurants with signature burgers. As far as burgers go for Nashville, there really is something for everyone. As the day approached I would get a daily reminder about the event and the anticipation was killing me. We purchased our tickets in advance for $20.00 each, which considering the amount of burgers we ate was a steal.
As we got our wrist bands for proof of being 21 and older, we could smell the yummy goodness of meat cooking and cheese dripping onto the coals and burning. There is nothing more American than grilling and when its burgers its even better!

      First up was Kitchen Notes, their "Tennessee Patty Melt" was amazing and compared to what everyone else was doing it was different. It was their take on a southern patty melt and it was delicious. Their burger was served on grilled rye and topped with pimento cheese, applewood smoked bacon, a special sauce and caramelized Dickle No. 8 Whiskey onions.

      Next up was the Hard Rock Cafe and their Local Legend, which left us wondering why they hadn't pulled out the big guns and used their Tango Burger or Hickory Barbecue Bacon Burger? This was a plain burger with mayo, fried onions, lettuce and tomato. Basic but I guess good in the standards of a burger but definitely lacking the extra specialness for a burger competition.

      M.L. Rose was next on the list with their Nash Vegas burger. Their burger was on a sweet potato bun and topped with barbecue sauce, pimento cheese and fried sweet tobacco onions. They also served a side of their famous potato chips, my favorite! This burger was amazing and the flavor combinations was nothing short of wow. This was a burger built for competitions.

      Urban Grub served up a monster and by this time I could only take a bite of Steve's burger. Their burger was a topped with pulled pork, salami cooked like bacon, bbq sauce and a special sauce. The sandwich was great over all but for a burger competition this over shadowed the burger it self. 

      I saved the final two for last and not to mention the Second and First Place winners! Hoss' Loaded Burgers is one of my all time favorite food trucks and burgers in Nashville. I have followed them since the day they opened and their burger combinations are out of this world. Not to mention they stuff every burger with cheese! They served the Jackalope, which was full size burger is 1/3lb stuffed with pepper jack, topped with Benton's bacon, avocado, and made from scratch jalapeƱo honey mustard. Dallas Shaw is a burger genius!

      Burger republic served their signature burger called The Tennessean. The burger is topped with Jack Daniel’s honey bourbon sauce, American cheese, maple-glazed Benton’s bacon and quick-fried onion crisps. Having had this burger plus every other burger they have I knew it would be between them and Hoss'. 


      The winner, Burger Republic, My favorite place to grab a burger and spiked milkshake, They will be competing in a few months at the World Burger Championship in Las Vegas! We wish them all the luck in the world and hope everyone else loves them as much as we do.

Next year I'm hoping more local places that are known for their burger will come out to participate. I'm calling out Burger Up, The Pharmacy and Gaby's.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crawfish Boil

      Every spring I think about the new things that will pop up in my garden and in my life. There is nothing more that I look forward to than a fresh start and a new spring. This includes crawfish! I love them and all things new that come with spring; like morels, ramps, spring peas and flowering bulbs. Since moving to Nashville six years ago we are way closer to the Gulf  and to Louisiana, where they farm crawfish in the spring season.

       I was lucky enough to find a great purveyor of these little fresh water bugs, Steamboat Bill's Louisiana Seafood. They also carry Gulf shrimp, soft shell crabs, boudin and andouille sausage all straight from Louisiana, all a day away. You can order already cooked or live crawfish. I prefer the live because I like to season mine really well and the boiling part of it is the whole reason to invite over a plethora of people to drink cold beer and hang out while the food is cooking.

      When I get my crawfish home, I rinse them off and sort the dead ones out and then throw them into a clean cooler of bucket with ice on the bottom. They then go into the fridge; if I plan on cooking them the day after I get them. If I'm cooking them the day of I then just keep them in the buckets, in the fridge until cooking time.

      You can buy the pot to boil the crawfish at Home Depot or Lowes. I get my seasoning from Gulf Pride at The Factory in Franklin. It's close to my house and they always have fresh seafood, the seasonings and dressings for great seafood. I use two seasonings: Zatarain's powdered crab boil and Zatarain's liquid crab boil.
        I also add about 5 peeled and sliced white onions and about 6 whole bulbs of garlic just cut in half. I also added about 6 lemons halved and you can add sliced hot peppers to the mixture too, if you like it spicey. I left these out because most of my guest are newly southern and the seasoning I use is spicey enough without them.The reason I use these two seasonings is they both have completely different flavor profiles and they both work in different ways. The powder has some heat and the liquid has a bit of oil and also some herbs that really stick to the crawfish. Once you are ready to start fill your boiler up with water, I would do about half way. Add your seasonings and start heating your mixture. Once the mixture is boiling you can add your sides for the crawfish such as cut corn on the cob, red skinned potatoes and sausage. I let these ingredients boil for a good 20 minutes before I add the crawfish. Once your sides are about done add the crawfish. Only boil them for about 5 minutes or until they are just pink. Drain and serve on new paper and be sure to provide buckets for the shells. I usually serve ramelade and cocktail sauce for dipping and also some Tony Chachere's creole seasoning for those who want more of a bite. Needless to say everyone enjoyed it! I plan on doing this every year as an annual get together.

Have questions, leave a comment and I will personally respond.

Photo credit: Joelle Quandt, Jessie Schultz, Bucky Elliot and Stacey Sides