Guy Fieri really is the mayor of Flavortown.
At the New York City Wine & Food Festival‘s annual Burger Bash, Fieri’s mac ‘n’ cheese bacon burger won the People’s Choice award in a first-time tie with the reigning champ, Burger & Barrel’s Josh Capon. (Capon has taken home the prize the last three years so this was no small feat—or meat. You should have seen some of those towering burgers!)
Gayle King, Katie Lee and the 3,000 other party guests sampled 27 different burger creations—including Bobby Flay’s Carolina Burger topped with smoked cheddar, mustard-barbecue sauce and green onion slaw—before voting for their favorite of the night.
Mac ‘n’ cheese burgers have been popping on menus a lot in recent months, so what made Fieri’s version stand out in the crowd? “It’s all about great flavor and texture,” said Fieri, who sandwiched an all-beef patty, applewood smoked bacon, mac ‘n’ cheese and his famous Donkey Sauce between a toasted brioche roll slathered with garlic butter. “It has 22 ingredients and six different cheeses for a really well-rounded, well-developed flavor,” he said. “I mean, we’re talking about a burger that is totally out of bounds.”
And host Rachael Ray agreed: “This burger just screams Guy. It’s big and bold and full of love—just like him.”
Fieri said: “I guarantee you have never tasted anything like this before.” But you can! He just added the prize-winning burger to his menu at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and adapted the recipe just for us, so we can all get a taste of this winner-winner-burger-dinner.
Guy Fieri’s ‘The Burger Basher’
Makes 4 burgers
4 brioche hamburger buns
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 (6-ounce) premium blend ground beef burger balls
8 ounces Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese (recipe below)
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese slices
8 ounces crispy crumbled bacon bits
4 tsp. garlic panko bread crumbs
¼ cup crispy Maui onion straws
3 tbsp. Donkey Sauce (recipe below)
¼ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 Kosher dill pickle, thinly sliced
1 Beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce (dressed with 1 tsp. red wine vinegar)
1. Combine the melted butter with minced garlic. Slice each bun in half and brush the garlic butter on each side. Toast each half in a hot skillet or grill pan, about 20 seconds; flip and toast the second side as well.
2. In a cast-iron skillet over high heat, add 2 teaspoons canola oil. Season burger balls with salt and add to pan. Sear for 30 seconds. Using a firm spatula, flatten each into a patty, about 1/3’’ thick. Cook for approximately 1½ minutes to develop a crust on the first side.
3. Flip over, add 2 ounces of mac and cheese to each patty, and top with one slice of cheddar. Cover with a dome and pour 1 tablespoon of water into the skillet to create steam and melt the cheese. Cook for 1 minute. Remove the dome; the cheese should be completely melted. Cook an additional 30-45 seconds so any cheese spilling over the burger gets crusty.
4. To assemble, spread donkey sauce on each half of the bun. Cover the bottom bun with thinly sliced onion, three slices of pickle and one slice of tomato. Top with the hamburger patty, top with bacon crumbles, garlic panko, onion straws and a heaping tablespoon of dressed lettuce. Add top bun and skewer to hold together. Serve immediately.
Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Makes 12 cups
8 ounces small elbow pasta
Olive oil, as needed
16 slices applewood smoked bacon
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese
3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces fontina cheese, grated
2 ounces parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
2 ounces Parrano cheese, grated
2 ounces cream cheese
3 tbsp. yellow mustard
2-3 grates fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a skillet over medium heat, add the bacon. Render the fat and cook until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon from the skillet to a paper towel lined dish and set aside. Once cooled, chop into small pieces. Reserve fat.
2. In the leftover bacon grease, melt butter. Gradually add in the flour and whisk until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden color and is the consistency of wet sand, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in milk, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, add the bay leaf and cook 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
3. Add in cheeses, one at a time, and whisk until each is fully incorporated into the sauce. Add in yellow mustard, nutmeg, cooked pasta, bacon, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a gratin dish and allow to cool, so you can scoop it onto burgers.
Makes 1¼ cups
¼ cup minced roasted garlic
1 cup prepared mayonnaise
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. yellow mustard
¼ tsp. kosher salt
4 turns freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.