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Turn out James Beard - worthy burgers. Chef Phillip Craig Thomason shares what goes into his award-winning burgers with Fox News's Lilian Huang Woo.

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The Backyard Burger from Vintage Kitchen/Chef Phillip Craig Thomason
One winner from the James Beard 2017 Blended Burger Project
photo: David Chow

This patty is blended with confit mushrooms and served with a cabernet franc molasses, cheddar cracklings, and a charred scallion mayonnaise

The Backyard Burger:

  • Four pairs of two 3-ounce room temperature blended burger patties, smashed between parchment paper, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 challah burger buns
  • 1/2 cup pain perdu custard to dip top bun
  • 1/4 cup melted butter from mushrooms to dip bottom bun
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup charred scallion mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup mornay sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cabernet franc molasses
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bacon rust
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cheddar cracklings
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon crumbled potato chips
  • 4 leaves butter lettuce
  • 4 slices heirloom tomato
  • Coffee salt
  • Dill pickles, sliced lengthwise

Confit Mushroom Patties:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pimentón
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle adobo purée
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • 10 ounces oyster mushrooms, stalks trimmed
  • 2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Bacon Rust:

  • 1/2 pound bacon (about 8 slices)

Cabernet Franc Molasses:

  • 1/2 cup cabernet franc
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pain Perdu Custard:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
  • 2 egg yolks

Cheddar Cracklings:

  • 2 cups finely grated sharp cheddar

Coffee Salt:

  • 1 tablespoon coffee beans
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Charred Scallion Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 bunch (about 3) scallions (or ramps), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle purée
  • 1/4 teaspoon pimentón
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Mornay Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Make the confit mushrooms: 24 hours in advance before looking to serve, mix together the brown sugar, smoked salt, and pimentón in a large bowl. Add the adobo purée and sambal oelek and stir to combine. Toss in the mushrooms and mix until they're fully coated in the rub. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cure overnight.

The next day, remove the mushrooms and any excess cure from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 300°F. While the oven is heating, melt the butter. Mix the melted butter with the mushrooms and transfer the mushrooms to a baking pan. Cover the pan with foil and braise in the oven for 3 hours until very soft. Transfer the mushrooms with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan lined with parchment and let cool. Strain the butter through a mesh sieve and reserve. Once the mushrooms have cooled, coarsely chop them until they match the texture of the ground beef. Mix the chopped mushrooms with the ground beef. Form into eight thin 3-ounce patties. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the bacon rust: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lay the bacon strips on a metal rack fitted inside a sheet pan. Cook until very crispy, about 40 minutes. Pat off any excess fat with paper towels while warm. Let cool at room temperature, then break into smaller pieces, and grind in a spice grinder to a fine powder.

Make the cabernet franc molasses: in a small saucepot, add the wine, sugar, and molasses and cook until the wine has reduced, the sugars have dissolved, and the mixture is syrupy, about 20 minutes. Add the stock and thyme and continue reducing until the mixture coats a spoon thickly, about 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the pain perdu custard: wrap the garlic cloves in foil. Roast in a 325°F oven until soft and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and open the foil to let the garlic cool. In a small saucepot, heat all of the ingredients, except the yolks, over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Blend immediately with an immersion blender until smooth. Slowly pour the hot mixture into a large bowl with the egg yolks while constantly whisking. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and chill.

Make the cheddar cracklings: keep the oven at 325°F. Spread the grated cheddar in a thin layer on a sheet pan fitted with a silicon mat. Bake until the cheese is very crispy, about 15 minutes. Let cool at room temperature then break into small, coarse pieces by hand.

Make the coffee salt: finely grind the coffee beans with the sea salt in a coffee or spice grinder. Set aside.

Make the charred scallion mayonnaise: in a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it's nearly smoking. Add the scallions (or ramps) and cook without stirring until the scallions have charred on one side. Stir once and remove from the heat to cool. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add the charred scallions and mix again until combined.

Make the mornay sauce: in a medium saucepot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until just caramelized and brown spots are starting to form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the flour, whisking constantly until lightly toasted with a nutty smell. Add the cold cream, whisking constantly until very smooth. Add the milk, bay leaf, garlic clove, and Worcestershire sauce, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add the cheeses, whisking constantly. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, similar to molten lava. Add water, if necessary, in small increments until desired consistency is achieved. Remove the bay leaf and garlic, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

To assemble: dip the top half of the buns in the pain perdu custard and dip the bottom buns in the reserved melted butter. In a well-greased cast-iron pan, griddle both halves of the buns until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the buns and cook the burger patties in the same skillet at high heat for 2 minutes to achieve a deep char on one side. When the first juices begin to bubble to the surface, immediately flip the burger and place the cheddar slices on top of each patty. Cook briefly until melted, about 1 minute.

Generously coat the buttered bottom bun with the charred scallion mayonnaise. Place the double stack patties on top, then layer the Mornay sauce, cabernet franc Molasses, bacon rust, cracklings, potato chips, lettuce, tomato, and a sprinkle of coffee salt on top. Finish with the pain perdu-coated top bun and spear with a dill pickle and skewer.

4 burgers

A winner of our 2017 Blended Burger Project, this patty is blended with wild mushrooms, fennel, garlic, and rosemary and served with broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, roasted tomatoes, and black garlic aïoli.

Wild Boar-Wild Mushroom Patties:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds wild mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced fennel
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 10 ounces ground wild boar meat

Black Garlic Aïoli:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves black garlic or roasted garlic, peeled
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch salt

Broccoli Rabe:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Tomatoes:

  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:

  • 4 toasted ciabatta buns
  • 4 slices aged provolone

Make the patties: heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have dehydrated and are brown and crispy, 8 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

In the same sauté pan, cook the fennel over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for an additional 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the cooled mushrooms and fennel mixture with the ground wild boar meat until well combined. Shape into four 5 1/2-ounce patties. Season the patties with salt and pepper to taste before grilling.

Make the aïoli: add all ingredients to a food processor and purée until blended, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients. (Note: the aïoli will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

Sauté the broccoli rabe: heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until the stalks are soft and the leaves and beginning to crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the tomatoes: heat the oven to 350°F. Toss the sliced tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper taste. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Cook the burgers: heat a well-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the patties until they're seared on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat until seared on the other side, about 3 minutes. Add the provolone slices on top of each patty in the last minute of cooking.

To serve: spread a thin layer of the aïoli on both sides of the ciabatta bun. Add the burger, broccoli rabe, roasted tomatoes, and top with the other half of the bun.

4 burgers

Garlic, Cilantro Lemongrass Wings
Source: Robyn Lindars, GrillGirl 
This recipe combines the flavors of garlic, lemongrass, cilantro, and turmeric to make for a fragrant spice paste that is an awesome combination of smoked/grilled chicken wings. Simply pulse all the ingredients together in the food processor and then let the chicken wings marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Reserve a bit of the marinade for an extra flavor kick at the end right before serving. I made these on my Green Mountain Grill Pellet Smoker which adds a ton of smokey flavor with minimal fuss, for the ultimate combo of aromatic ingredients paired with smoke from the grill. These chicken wings were OUT OF THIS WORLD! INGREDIENTS  1-2 tbsp. olive oil  3 lemongrass stalks OR 3 tbsp. lemon or lime zest  1 cup cilantro sprigs  8 garlic cloves, peeled  1/2 tbsp. turmeric  1/2 tbsp. sea salt  1/2 tbsp. pepper (or to taste)  10-12 chicken wings (approximately 1.5 pounds) DIRECTIONS 1. Combine olive oil, lemongrass/or zest, cilantro, garlic, turmeric, sea salt and pepper in the food processor and pulse until uniformly mixed - you are looking to make a seasoning "paste". 2. Marinate the chicken wings for 30 minutes before putting on the grill. Reserve about 2 tbsp. of the marinade to drizzle before serving. 3. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat at 350 degrees. 4. Marinate the chicken wings for 30 minutes before putting on the grill. I used my Green Mountain Grill and set it to 375 degrees with the smoker holes wide open. 5. Grill your wings, turning halfway during the process, for approximately 15-18 minutes OR until the internal temperature has reached 170 degrees with an internal read thermometer. 6. Once you've reached 170 degrees, pull the wings o and drizzle with the remaining marinade. 7. Prepare for out of this world flavor combinations! Enjoy!

Garlic, Cilantro Lemongrass Wings from Robyn Lindars/Grill Girl in partnership with Green Mountain Grills

Chicken Fingers Poutine

Source: Napoleon Grills Yields: 2-4 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Marinade Time: 8 - 24 hours Grill Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2to4

TotalTime: 40Minutes+Marinade Step 1 Slice both chicken breasts in half, horizontally, so that you have 4 thin chicken breasts. Cut the breasts into french fry sized fingers, not too big, but not too small that they will overcook quickly. Place the chicken strips into a nonreactive dish, and cover with buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper to taste and marinate for 8 hours or overnight in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS 2 large chicken breasts 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk salt and pepper to taste 3 cups of oil for frying 1 bag, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh cheese curds Breading 1 cup all purpose flour 3/4 cup cornmeal 1 tbsp. garlic powder 1 tbsp. onion powder 1 tbsp. parsley flakes cayenne pepper to taste red chilli flakes to taste 2 tsp. salt 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper Homemade Chicken Gravy 3 tbsp. butter or goose/duck fat 3 tbsp. flour 1 to 2 cups chicken stock pinch of paprika pinch of turmeric salt to taste DIRECTIONS 1/30/2018 Chicken Fingers Poutine https://www.napoleongrills.com/recipes/id/2053/chicken-fingers-poutine 2/3 Step 2 In a dish, whisk together all of the ingredients for the breading. Take each strip from the buttermilk and shake o any excess milk. Dredge the chicken in the breading and then set aside for frying. You can dip each strip back into the milk and dredge a second time if you want. Repeat until all of the chicken is breaded. Step 3 Place a deep pot or dutch oven over your side burner, turning it on to medium low. Add the oil. I do this outside to minimize mess, but feel free to do this in the house on the stove too. Once the oil begins to shimmer, it's ready. Step 4 Using tongs, dip 3 to 5 chicken fingers into the oil and cook for about 1 minute per side, or until they're golden brown. Remove the cooked chicken from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel. Keep them warm on the grill, by turning on a single burner to low and putting the tray with the chicken fingers well o to the side. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked. Step 5 Preheat your grill to 450°F. Step 6 While the grill is warming. Make the gravy. Melt the butter or fat in a saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook until golden. Slowly add the chicken stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until smooth each time, until you have a perfect gravy consistency. Add the seasonings to taste and keep warm until you're ready to serve the Chicken Fingers Poutine. Step 7 Arrange the chicken fingers and the cheese curds on a baking tray, and bake them on the grill over indirect heat until the cheese has melted. Step 8 Serve by smothering everything in the fresh gravy. Watch as this tasty treat disappears in seconds. Step 9 PRO TIP: If you don't want to fry your chicken fingers, you can bake them on the grill. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, and place the breaded chicken onto that. Bake the fingers over indirect heat on a grill that has been preheated to 350° to 400°F, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked. © Napoleon Grills 2018

1.Bareburger, New York City. Chef Jon Lemon's Porchetta Burger is a 50/50 mushroom and wild boar blend, topped with a black-garlic aioli, broccoli rabe, oven-roasted tomatoes, and aged provolone cheese on a ciabatta bun. 2. Houston Yacht Club, La Porte, Texas. Chef Petros Jaferis' Greeklish Burger features beef chuck, cremini mushroom, and caper patty on a brioche bun - with basil aioli with feta melted over the patty, topped with a mini Greek salad and paprika oil. 3. Cedar's Café, Melbourne, Fla. Chef Toni Elkhouri's Brevard's Taste of Summer Burger features blended mushrooms and lamb on an apricot and liquid smoke glazed bun, sour cherry mustard, basil, brie cheese, and an herb lemon caper walnut relish. 4. VINTAGE Kitchen, Norfolk, Va. Chef Phillip Thomason's Backyard Burger includes a grass-fed beef blended with confit oyster mushrooms, aged double cheddar and charred ramp mayo, bacon rust, cab franc molasses, Hayman potato straws, coffee salt, demi-pain perdu, and brown butter mornay. 5. All four winning burgers (Left to right: Cedar's Café Taste of Summer Burger; VINTAGE Kitchen Backyard Burger; Houston Yacht Club Greeklish Burger; Bareburger Porchetta Burger) 6. 2017 Blended Burger Project Winning Chefs (Left to right: Jon Lemon, Bareburger; Toni Elkhouri, Cedar's Café; Phillip Thomason, VINTAGE Kitchen; Petros Jaferis, Houston Yacht Club)
Four Winning Chefs from the Blended Burger Project Photo Credit: David Chow

  1. Bareburger, New York City. Chef Jon Lemon's Porchetta Burger is a 50/50 mushroom and wild boar blend, topped with a black-garlic aioli, broccoli rabe, oven-roasted tomatoes, and aged provolone cheese on a ciabatta bun.
  2. Houston Yacht Club, La Porte, Texas. Chef Petros Jaferis' Greeklish Burger features beef chuck, cremini mushroom, and caper patty on a brioche bun - with basil aioli with feta melted over the patty, topped with a mini Greek salad and paprika oil.
  3. Cedar's Café, Melbourne, Fla. Chef Toni Elkhouri's Brevard's Taste of Summer Burger features blended mushrooms and lamb on an apricot and liquid smoke glazed bun, sour cherry mustard, basil, brie cheese, and an herb lemon caper walnut relish.
  4. VINTAGE Kitchen, Norfolk, Va. Chef Phillip Thomason's Backyard Burger includes a grass-fed beef blended with confit oyster mushrooms, aged double cheddar and charred ramp mayo, bacon rust, cab franc molasses, Hayman potato straws, coffee salt, demi-pain perdu, and brown butter mornay.
  5. All four winning burgers (Left to right: Cedar's Café Taste of Summer Burger; VINTAGE Kitchen Backyard Burger; Houston Yacht Club Greeklish Burger; Bareburger Porchetta Burger)
  6. 2017 Blended Burger Project Winning Chefs (Left to right: Jon Lemon, Bareburger; Toni Elkhouri, Cedar's Café; Phillip Thomason, VINTAGE Kitchen; Petros Jaferis, Houston Yacht Club)