By Ann Reily
---- — Todd’s Famous Burger is about to become more famous.
As the winner of Michael’s Harborside’s first Ultimate Burger Battle, the creation by Byfield resident Todd Giedraitis is now on the specials menu for the month of December at the Newburyport restaurant.
“We’ve sold a few already,” general manager Matt Kirk said yesterday.
The “famous” label is something that Giedraitis said he affixes to a number of the meals he cooks for his two children, 14-year-old Alden and 10-year-old Sophie.
“Pretty much everything was famous,” said Giedraitis, adding that it started with a pasta dish. “It kind of stuck after that.”
The burger recipe is one that Giedraitis has honed over the years, starting when he was a child helping his mother.
“She would chop up onions and put it inside the burger,” he said. “When I tried it on the kids, they enjoyed it, too.”
Later tweaks included adding a mixture of Heinz 57 Sauce and mayonnaise and topping the burger with cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce and more onions. One day, Giedraitis experimented with Indian spices, something he uses a lot while cooking. He didn’t tell his children, but they loved the flavors so much, they told him to make the recipe that way every time.
“They absolutely love it,” he said. “They’re my biggest food critics.”
His children were also there to share in his victory when his burger was proclaimed No. 1 during a celebration late last month.
“I was shocked,” said Giedraitis, who also received a $150 gift certificate to Michael’s. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is cool.’”
Kirk said he and executive chef Beau Marchitelli came up with the idea for a local contest after attending the Battle of the Burger in Boston this past summer. They decided to gauge interest in the Newburyport area by starting on a small scale, soliciting entries through the restaurant’s email list and advertisements in The Daily News.
The restaurant received around 25-30 entries for the competition, which ran from Oct. 17 through Nov. 11 and was open to Massachusetts and New Hampshire residents ages 21 and older. Six semifinalists chosen by Michael’s Harborside staff were narrowed down to three during a judging session with employees from The Daily News, which co-sponsored the contest.
Everyone who submitted a burger recipe was invited to attend the Burger Battle finale on Nov. 21. The three finalists and their guests were not allowed to vote, so the winner was selected through secret ballots filled out by other entrants and Daily News staff members.
Unlike Giedraitis, the other two finalists, Fil MacArthur of Georgetown and Howie Smith of Amesbury, both created their burgers specifically for the contest.
“I just thought about something I’d like to have,” said MacArthur, who enjoys cooking and has a knack for replicating dishes that she eats at restaurants.
She remembered enjoying steak with an egg on top in Portugal and thought that concept would translate well to a burger. Thin-sliced Linguica sausage and cheddar completed her vision.
“It would be good for brunch,” she said. “I’m kind of a foodie kind of person. I like good-quality stuff that tastes well.”
When Smith found out about the contest, “I thought it would be kind of a neat thing to do,” he said.
He started dabbling in his kitchen and spent a few hours shaping his unique idea.
“I came up with this recipe just to be a little bit different,” said Smith, whose burrito burger is flavored with chilis, steak sauce and horseradish mayonnaise and wrapped in a tortilla.
“It came out pretty good,” he said.
MacArthur and Smith both won $50 gift certificates for making the final three.
Kirk said the restaurant plans to hold another Burger Battle in a few months, with plans to eventually expand it into a bigger, outdoor festival.
Todd’s Famous Burger
2 pounds Angus ground beef (Let sit and get to room temperature for 1 hour)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pack of fresh bakery egg bread buns
1 tablespoon Heinz 57 Sauce
1 tablespoon Cains mayonnaise
1 red onion, sliced, thinly making onion rings
1 package of shredded lettuce
6 pieces of deli cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, diced red onion, pepper and salt. Shape into 6 patties.
Combine the cumin and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and lightly coat both sides of all the patties.
Grill patties over medium heat until desired doneness. Just before done, add the cheddar cheese on each patty and close the lid to melt the cheese.
When patties are almost done, slice hamburger buns in half. Lightly baste each bun with olive oil, and grill until slightly brown.
Combining the burger: Combine the mayonnaise and Heinz 57 Sauce, and slightly coat the top and bottom grilled buns with this mixture. On the bottom bun, place the patty, then the shredded lettuce and red onion rings.
Howie’s Burrito Burger
6 tablespoons A.1. Original Steak Sauce
2 4-ounce cans diced green chilis, divided
3 tablespoons dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon horseradish mustard
2 pounds 80 percent ground beef
6 6-inch flour tortillas
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
Mix 2 tablespoons steak sauce, 3 tablespoons chilis, sour cream, mayonnaise and horseradish in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Mix ground beef with remaining steak sauce and chilis. Shape the mixture into 6 4-inch oval patties. Grill burgers over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side until no longer pink in center.
Place each burger in center of 1 tortilla; top evenly with sliced tomato, lettuce, cheese and chilled sauce from refrigerator. Fold the edges of tortilla in like a burrito and secure with a toothpick to serve.
Fil’s Linguica Burger
Top an Angus hamburger with:
Linguica, thinly sliced
1 fried egg white
1 slice of cheddar cheese (optional)
1 piece of romaine lettuce