Posted May 20, 2014
Floored! Shocked! Stunned!
Those are some of the feelings expressed by Cristen Clark when she learned she had won the top prize in the alternative category of the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest cookoff on May 17 in St. Helena, Calif.
The stay-at-home mom, casual cook, baker and blogger from Runnells in southeast Polk County received $15,000 for her “Sour Apple Pork Burger” recipe in the contest billed as the nation’s longest running and highest paying burger contest. Clark also won the People’s Choice Award in the alternative burger category, receiving an additional $2,500. She was the only one of the five finalists who used fresh pork.
“I am extremely humbled and thankful,” she said.
Cristen’s Sour Apple Pork Burger is glazed with an apple butter mixture, topped with cheddar cheese, cayenne candied bacon, tart cinnamon apples and onion haystacks on a soft potato roll.
“The pork product they got for me was amazing. It was a Duroc product from Iowa. Succulent shoulder, ground beautifully,” Clark said. “The burgers went on the Weber grill flawlessly and stayed moist. Using my thermapen was all the insurance I needed. I pulled them at 143 degrees F. and let them rest. They carried over to 148-150 degrees F., which kept the meat moist and the rest of the burger came together quite well.”
Each finalist was required to pair their recipe with a Sutter Home wine. Clark paired her pork burger with Chenin Blanc and the judges agreed it was a winning combination.
“I have only had one bite, but I am in hog heaven,’ exclaimed head judge James McNair, a best-selling author of more than 40 cookbooks.
Clark also entered a burger recipe in the $100,000 beef category, but it was her specially created pork burger that earned her the all-expense-paid trip to Napa Valley for the contest. Her recipe was selected among thousands of entries.
“I knew my burger would be approachable for any palate and hoped my Midwest-ness had gone over with the guests,” Clark commented.
Clark grew up on a diversified farm near Prairie City and she and her husband, Mike, currently have a commercial hog and show pig business.
Cristen credits her mother and grandmother for her passion for cooking and baking. You can learn more about Clark and her cooking, baking and farming exploits at her successful foodandswine.com blog.