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Prolific cookbook author James McNair has been chief judge of Sutter Home Winery's burger cook-off since it began in Napa in 1990. One of his books, Build a Better Burger, includes every winning recipe. Some past winners - and McNair's Louisiana roots - inspired the burger here. Bon Appetit Magazine, July 2006. Recipe by Paul Gayler.
- 3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning or 1 teaspoon creole seasoning
- 1⁄4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (we used Pickapeppa sauce)
- 1⁄2 lb andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 3⁄4 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 lbs ground chuck (20 percent fat) or 1 1⁄2 lbs ground beef (20 percent fat)
- 1 1⁄2 lbs onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing grill rack
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar (has to be sugar, not a sugar substitute)
- 6 large hamburger buns, split
- 8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 12 pickled okra pods, halved lengthwise (bottled kind)
- 3 cups watercress, tops
- hot pepper sauce, for serving (we used Pickapeppa Sauce) (optional)
- FOR MAYONNAISE:.
- Mix all ingredients in small bowl: cover and chill.
- *Can be made 2 days ahead; keep chilled.
- FOR BURGERS:.
- Toss first 4 ingredients in large bowl.
- Add beef; blend gently.
- Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties.
- Transfer patties to small baking sheet.
- **Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.
- FOR ONIONS:.
- Prepare barbecue(medium-high heat).
- Toss onions and next 3 ingredients in large skillet.
- Place skillet on grill; cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from grill; season with salt and pepper.
- Brush grill rack with olive oil; grill buns, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer buns to work surface.
- Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes.
- Turn over; sprinkle with cheese.
- Grill until burgers are cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium.
- Place some onions, then burger, on each bun bottom.
- Top each with okra and watercress.
- Spread mayonnaise on cut side of bun tops; place on burgers.
- Serve with remaining mayonnaise.
- Enjoy with an ice cold beer!