Blended Burger Project ends July 31

Chef Aaron Gray at Sioux Center Health entered the Blended Burger Project. His creation blends ground turkey with mushrooms, chopped bacon, apple pieces and ginger, then topped with honey ginger sauce and candied bacon — and lettuce, tomato and onion, also, if you choose.

I’m a person who enjoys eating tasty meat.

Be it Spark BBQ’s ribs, Dan Den Herder’s smoked pork tenderloin, my uncle Brad’s steak or my husband’s grilled chicken — it’s all finger-licking good.

There’s a new burger in town that’s made this list as well.

One note. I love mushrooms so just reading the description of the burger made me hungry when it might turn non-mushroom people way.

Trust me. There’s something everyone will love about Sioux Center Health chef Aaron Gray’s burger creation for the Blended Burger Project, a competition challenging chefs to blend mushrooms with meat or some other plant-based protein to create a delicious, nutritious and sustainable burger.

The Garden Cafe at Sioux Center Health is one of two places in Iowa seeking votes among the 318 total contest entries thanks to Gray.

Gray’s creation blends ground turkey with mushrooms, chopped bacon, apple pieces and ginger, then topped with honey ginger sauce and candied bacon — and lettuce, tomato and onion, also, if you choose. Guests can have it served up on a standard white bun, pretzel bun or kaiser roll. It’s on the daily menu through July 31.

While the description made me hungry, my excitement grew, even more, when the burger the size of my hand was set in front of me, like the two strips of bacon on top were spelling my name … well, OK, more like “X” marking the spot for food treasure.

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The two strips of bacon on top were spelling my name . . . well, OK, more like “X” marking the spot for food treasure.

I’ve had one turkey burger in my life, and it was dry and overcooked.

Not Gray’s version. Juice rolled down my fingers from first to the last bite. Gray said the mushrooms, chopped bacon and apple pieces add the fat and juices plain ground turkey often lacks to “beef up” the burger’s juiciness.

The hints of ginger, thyme, salt and pepper all satisfied my taste buds well. I chose to keep the lettuce, tomato and onion. Gray said a few customers have asked for a slice of Swiss cheese.

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Juice rolled down my fingers from first to last bite. 

“Their preference,” he said. “Just a regular turkey burger sometimes needs a slice of cheese, but I didn’t think this version needed it.”

I agree.

Having lots of ground turkey available in the kitchen sealed the deal on which meat would accompany the chopped mushrooms needed for the contest. Gray said adding the chopped bacon and apple pieces was influenced by stuffing he made around Thanksgiving one year while was a chef at Blue Mountain in Orange City.

The two extra candied pieces of bacon on top the burger “are because I’m fat and love bacon,” Gray said jokingly. “And really everything is better with bacon.”

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Sioux Center Health chef Aaron Gray’s is the mastermind behind a burger creation the blends ground turkey with mushrooms, chopped bacon, apple pieces and ginger, then topped with honey ginger sauce and candied bacon — and lettuce, tomato and onion, also, if you choose.

My burger did have a hard time staying together. I frequently had to pick up broken pieces of it off my plate, but I didn't leave any meat behind. The patty was good all on its own.

With plate empty, both mind and stomach were satisfied having tried something new and finding it to be delicious. And only for $4.50!! 

“Amazing burger,” has been Gray’s favorite comment so far as well as seeing a few people return another day to order the burger again.

I may just have to do that too.

I voted for the burger! Anyone can vote online daily. Now it’s your turn.

Blended Burger Project stop by

Stop by the Garden Cafe at Sioux Center Health through July 31 to try chef Aaron Gray's burger entry for the Blended Burger Project. Then go online to vote!