Locals cook up award-winning burgers at State Fair
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Locals cook up award-winning burgers at State Fair

Aug 30, 2012

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:19 pm, Wed Aug 29, 2012.

Shirley Gawlik of Oakfield had only twice before actually made the recipe she entered in the State Fair’s "Create a Perfect Burger" contest.

The third time, you might say, was the charm as her “Ice Cream All Beef Burger” was picked for three awards, including the overall contest winner, during a cook-off among 10 finalists at the State Fair in Syracuse on Tuesday afternoon.

“People were blown away,” Gawlik said of her unusual choice of ingredient. “A lot of people said ‘Why ice cream?’ But I said, ‘You put cheese on a burger so why not try ice cream.’”

The ice cream, it should be noted, is mixed with the ground beef before cooking. Gawlik pairs a half-cup of Perry’s vanilla ice cream with 2 pounds of ground beef, along with such ingredients as roasted red onion, roasted red sweet pepper, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and Italian breadcrumbs. She uses another quarter-cup of vanilla ice cream in a pesto sauce that she tops the burgers with. She also bastes the inside of the bun with the sauce instead of butter before toasting the roll.

“I grew up on a dairy farm. We always had fresh beef around. We always had fresh dairy. It seemed natural to me to combine them for this recipe,” said Gawlik, who is a customer service representative for Perry’s Ice Cream.

Gawlik, who creates recipes and teaches cooking through Pampered Chef, says the addition of ice cream makes for a juicier burger. The five judges apparently agreed as they named Gawlik’s creation “Juiciest Burger.” She was received the award for “Consumer-Friendly Burger,” a category based on presentation.

Gawlik, who had cooked the burger for families and friends the previous two Sundays, wasn’t the only local winner of the contest sponsored by the New York Beef Industry Council.

James L. Meier of Batavia won the “Best Southwest Flavor” burger for his Poblano Garlic Gouda Cheeseburger.

Meier’s burger is an ambitious recipe that blends three different cuts of beef — chuck, sirloin and brisket — in creating the burger patty. He also includes a caramelized onion jam, sliced and shredded Gouda cheese, a garlic mayo, special butter and two roasted poblano peppers.

The peppers, he said, definitely gave his burger some heat.

“The ones that grew this year, definitely kicked it up. They were exceptional this year,” said Meier, who grows the peppers — which he compares to somewhere between a bell and a jalapeno for “heat” — in his home garden.

Meier said he is already thinking about what burger combinations he can create in hopes of returning to the contest next year.

The 10 finalists gathered at the Fair’s Chevy Court where they had one hour to make six burgers — five for judges to sample, and one to use as a presentation piece.

For the judges, Gawlik presented the burger on an onion roll, but with a twist. She basted the inside of the bun with a pesto sauce that was also created with ice cream. She then toasted the roll. For her presentation piece, Gawlik served her burger on a sunflower instead of a bun.

Meier said the Ice Cream Burger was a deserving choice to win.

“It was surprisingly good,” he said. “The ice cream made the burger savory and juicy.”

Judges scored each burger on a scale of 1 to 10 in such categories as taste, creativity and presentation. The burger with the highest total score wins the grand prize, which was a BeefEater gas grill donated by the New York Propane and Gas Association and a year’s supply of ground beef (an average of 2 pounds per week) from Tops.

“Everyone was very nice,” said Gawlik, who will be able to return to the competition as a judge next year. “It was just a fun day to represent the good foods that New York has to offer.”


Shirley Gawlick, Oakfield

“Ice Cream All Beef Burger”

2 lbs. fresh New York State ground beef

1/2 cup roasted red onion finely chopped

1/2 cup red sweet roasted pepper finely chopped

2 cups fresh spinach

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup parsley

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Perry’s vanilla ice cream

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

6 Hard seeded or onion roll buns



1 cup pesto

1/4 cup vanilla ice cream



Mix together all ingredients from the ingredient list and form into patties. Cook on medium heat, until burger is 160 degrees internal temp

Mix together sauce ingredients

Time to build your perfect ice cream burger. Toast hard roll or onion roll

Pile high with fresh spinach, roasted red sweet peppers, tomato and grilled red onion.

Top with the pesto ice cream sauce.


James Meier, Batavia

“Poblano Onion Garlic Gouda Cheesburgers”


8 ounces chuck

8 ounces sirloin

8 ounces brisket

Grill Mates® Steakhouse Onion Burger Seasoning Salt & pepper

2 tablespoons compound butter

Caramelized balsamic onion jam (see recipe below)

2 Poblano peppers - roasted

4 tablespoons garlic mayonnaise

4 slices of smoked Gouda cheese (or aged Gouda – both work well)

4 tablespoons shredded aged Gouda (or sharp cheddar)

4 bakery fresh hamburger buns or Ciabatta buns.

Extra virgin olive oil.



Chill beef in the refrigerator. Grind beef through meat grinder, and re-grind meat once more. Separate into four equal portions and form two patties from each portion. Take the two patties and place between them half a tbsp. of the compound butter and a tbsp. of shredded cheese. Press two patties together and seal the edges. Repeat three more times. Place formed burgers into fridge to chill while you preheat your grill.

On preheated grill place the two Poblano peppers and the onion foil packet. Turn the peppers every few minutes until nicely charred. Remove and place into brown paper bag and seal and set aside. Remove onion packet after around 20 – 30 minutes, when the onions are nice and tender. (see Caramelized balsamic onion jam).

Remove chilled burgers from fridge, season both sides with seasoning and salt & pepper. Cut buns in half and brush inside lightly with olive oil. Place on a hot oiled grill. Grill first side for four to five minutes. Place buns on grill for two to three minutes and remove when nicely toasted. Grill burgers for another three minutes, and place cheese on top of burger and close the lid. Grill for another one to two minutes or until internal burger temp is 160 degrees. Remove from grill.

When the burgers come off, open the paper bag with the peppers, remove and remove skin and stem/seed pod and slice in half.

Brush the inside of the top and bottom of the bun with garlic mayo, place burger on bottom bun, top burger with onion jam and Poblano pepper and top of bun. Enjoy!

Caramelized balsamic onion jam:

1 large onion halved and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic sliced

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Agave syrup to taste


Place sliced onion, olive oil and garlic on a sheet of foil, fold into a packet and heat on a medium hot grill for around a half hour. Remove from grill, empty into food processor, add balsamic vinegar and agave syrup and process into a thick jam like consistency.

Compound butter:

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. chopped/minced parsley

1/2 a minced shallot

4 cloves of roasted garlic

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Spoon out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log and place in fridge/freezer to harden up.

Garlic mayonnaise:

4 Tbsp. olive oil based mayonnaise

3 to 4 cloves of roasted garlic.

Add garlic and mayonnaise together and whisk. 

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