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Texas can lay claim to being the birthplace of some of the nation’s niftiest culinary inventions: fajitas, corn dogs, nachos and the frozen margarita machine. But perhaps the best of all has been traced to the East Texas town of Athens, which is dubbed the “Original Home of the Hamburger,” and which sponsored this month’s contest, Your Best Burger.

We received recipes for all manner of patties on a bun. The tastiest was not made with beef. The combination of tangy fried tomatoes, crisp bacon, creamy guacamole and lean venison made this recipe a hard one to top.

1 1/2 pounds ground venison
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
3 medium-sized firm green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 avocados
1 small ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño pepper, chopped but not seeded
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups vegetable oil
4 good quality hamburger buns
1/4 cup garlic-herb mayonnaise
4 slices pepper jack cheese
1 small sweet onion, sliced thin
2 lettuce leaves, washed and torn
1 pound bacon, cut in half crossways and cooked

  • Break up venison and season generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Form 4 patties, making them thinner in the middle than on the edges. Cover patties and allow them to rest.
  • In the meantime, lay the sliced green tomatoes in a shallow baking dish lined with paper towels. Sprinkle them with salt to pull out the moisture. Let them sit for about 30 minutes, turning them midway through.
  • As tomatoes are resting, remove the skins and pits from the avocados and mash. Add the chopped tomato, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  • Grill the venison patties until they reach the desired level of doneness. Put on clean platter and keep warm.
  • Pour the buttermilk into a shallow dish. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, pepper, garlic powder and salt.
  • Dip the tomato slices into the buttermilk, then dredge them in the seasoned flour-cornmeal mixture. Set aside on a large platter.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat to about 375 degrees. Deep-fry the tomatoes in batches (being careful not to crowd them in the pan) until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined rack and let the excess oil drain off.
  • Spread each bun with 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise. Lay a slice of cheese on the bottom half of each bun. Top with a burger, a slice of sweet onion, some lettuce and bacon. Top with a spoonful of guacamole and some of the fried green tomatoes.

Servings: 4. Serving size: 1 sandwich. Per serving: 855 calories, 58 g protein, 35 g fat, 71.9 g carbohydrates, 9.4 g dietary fiber, 859 mg sodium, 14.8 g sugars, 171 mg cholesterol

Sara Thrash | Wise EC

July 2013 Recipe Contest Recipe Contest