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    Eat & Swig

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    The fifth annual Derby Burger competition is upon us, and it’s bringing out Louisville’s best burgers to dish it out.  The winning burger will be featured over at Over the 9 this May, but if you’re too eager to wait that long, you can make these mouthwatering masterpieces yourself! 

    Maurice Williams’s SmoFried Cheese Stuffed Angus Burger

    “From the tried and true cheese burger to the ultra complex burger concoctions with more toppings than a supreme pizza, we all have a special place in our hearts as well as stomachs for a great juicy burger!” –


    3 Pounds Angus Ground Beef
    1 Pound Ground Beef Brisket Flat
    1 Green Bell Pepper
    1 Sweet Vidallia Onion
    Kosher Salt
    Cracked Black Pepper
    Crumbled Blue Cheese
    Crumbled Feta Cheese


    1. In a large mixing bowl, grate the Sweet Visalia Onion and the Green Bell Pepper

    2. Add the ground beef and ground brisket in the mixing bowl.

    3. Add 50 turns of fresh cracked black pepper and one heaping tablespoon of kosher salt to the ground beef.

    4. Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly.

    5. Roll the ground bee mixture into 2 inch balls.

    6. Flatten the ground beef balls, and create a small pocket in the middle of half of the balls.

    7. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of each of the crumbled cheeses inside of the small pocket.

    8. Flatten another beef ball and place on top of the beef with the cheese in it.

    9. Press the sides together making sure there are no holes in the two pieces of beef.

    10. Grill the burgers over high heat for 10-12 minutes per side (until the beef does not stick to the grill grate).

    11. Serve on a toasted brioche bun with tomato and lettuce.

    Tanya Hicks’s Banh mi Burger

    Burgers topped with Sriracha mayo and a crunchy pickled carrot and radish slaw with sprigs of cilantro?  Yes, please.


    1/2 cup rice vinegar
    2 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    1/4 cup radishes- sliced
    1 teaspoon salt

    Sriracha Mayo:
    2/3 cup mayo
    1 tablespoon Sriracha

    2 tablespoon crushed garlic
    2 tablespoons fish sauce
    1 tablespoon sriracha
    3 green onions- sliced
    1 pound Ground Beef (80/20)
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    4 Kaiser rolls


    1. Combine vinegar and sugar in a small bowl, whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add the carrots and radishes, mix well, and season with salt. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes or store in the refrigerator up to overnight.

    2. Combine mayo and Sriracha in a small bowl, then sit aside.

    3. In a mini blender combine garlic, fish sauce, Sriracha, and green onions. Pulse until green onions are finely chopped. Place ground beef into a medium size bowl and pour the fish sauce mixture on top. Thoroughly combine without over mixing, make 4 1/2 inch patties.

    4. Place patties on a medium heat pre-heated cast iron skillet for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, turning occasionally.

    5. Place cooked patty on the bottom half of the Kaiser roll, add the slaw with tongs to the top of the patty. Add 1/8 cup of the cilantro leaves on top of the slaw. Spread Sriracha mayo to the top of the bun, place bun on top of the slaw. Enjoy!

    Image: Kevin Barnes

    Kevin Barnes’s Louisville Loop Burger

    This goliath features a Four Roses Bourbon Glaze and a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout Cheese Sauce.


    Candied Bourbon Bacon:
    1 lb thick cut Bacon
    1 cup Four Roses Bourbon
    1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Crispy Onions and Jalapenos:
    1 large white onion, halved and then sliced very thin
    2 Jalapenos seeded and sliced into thin circles
    2 cups buttermilk
    2 cups flour
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    Pinch of pepper + cayenne pepper
    Oil, for frying

    Four Roses Bourbon Glaze:
    1/4 cup Four Roses
    1 Stick Butter (Unsalted)
    ¼ cup Local KY honey
    2 Tbsp Ketchup
    1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

    1 lb ground Sirloin
    ½ lb ground veal
    6 ounces Stilton Cheese
    1 tsp Garlic Powder
    1 tsp Onion Powder
    1 tsp Green Heb Salt (Mixture of sea salt, thyme flakes, Rosemary flakes, Basil flakes and Parsley flakes)
    2 Cloves Fresh Ground Garlic
    Fresh Ground Pepper, for sprinkling
    4 good quality Kaiser Rolls from Nords Bakery

    KY Bourbon Barrel Stout Cheese Sauce:
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    4 tablespoons flour
    1/2 cup KY Bourbon Barrel Stout  beer
    1/2-1 cup milk
    8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
    Salt and pepper, to taste


    1. Preheat oven to 350°F

    2. Mix together your Four Roses Bourbon with 1 cup brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan over medium/high heat. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    3. Place each strip of bacon directly on a baking sheet, allowing a bit of space between strips. Brush the bacon with the bourbon reduction and then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.

    4. Place bacon in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, checking after 12 minutes. Ovens vary, so you want to make sure they don’t burn. Mine took the full 20 minutes.

    5. Take bacon out of the oven and allow to sit on a parchment paper to cool/drain.

    6. Add the sliced onions and jalapenos to a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over top. Use your hand to submerge in the buttermilk. Allow to sit in the buttermilk 10-30 minutes. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt and a pinch of both cayenne and pepper to a bowl and give it a good toss. When ready to fry the onions and peppers, heat a large pot of oil until it reaches 375°F, or until a pinch of flour sizzles when sprinkled over the pot. Remove a handful of onions and peppers from the buttermilk and place them into the flour mixture. Coat the onions and peppers in the flour mixture, and then tap them on the inside of the bowl to shake off the excess flour. Carefully drop them into the hot oil. With a spoon, fiddle with them a bit just to break them up. Watch them closely as they cook quickly! After about 1 or 2 minutes, they should be golden brown, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining onion/pepper slices. They are best served right away, but can be reheated in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes, watching them closely and making sure they do not burn.

    7. Add the butter, to a skillet and melt.  Once melted add the bourbon, honey, ketchup and cayenne to the skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer approximately 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Keep warm over low heat until ready to use. (Can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge and warmed before use).

    8. Hand mix the ground sirloin and veal into a mixing bowl until well blended. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, Green Herb Salt, and garlic, then mix with hands until well incorporated. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and divide the meat into 4 to 5 equal size balls and then pat into equal sized patties. Sprinkle each patty with equal amount of Stilton Cheese and then rework each patty into a ball and then press back out into a patty.  (Make sure that the Stilton is well incorporated.  Doing the cheese as a separate step ensures each patty gets an equal amount of Stilton). Place the patties back on the baking sheet. Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium high heat, once hot, season the burgers with pepper and then grill until your desired doneness. Take time to generously baste each burger with the bourbon glaze during the grilling process.  The burgers should 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove the burgers from the grill and cover with foil to allow the burgers to rest while you prepare the cheese sauce.

    9. During the last few minutes of grilling, butter and toast your rolls on the grill.

    10. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly, add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux, and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color. Add the beer and 1/2 cup milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in the cheddar cheese and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with more milk. Season with salt and pepper.

    11. To serve, place each burger on a toasted bun, top with a desired amount of cheese sauce. Add those crispy onions and peppers and then the top bun, Garnish with a spear of Candied Bacon through the top bun.

    Sarah Allgeier’s Italian Grilled Cheese Burger

    Easy to make, worth it to eat.


    1 pound ground beef
    1/2 c finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
    1/4 tsp dried thyme
    1 tsp minced garlic
    4 slices mozzarella
    1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
    1 loaf garlic bread, cut into four pieces


    1. Mix the ground beef with the chopped sun dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and garlic.  Once all ingredients are combined, form into four patties and fry until temperature reaches 160°F.

    2. To assemble place a slice of garlic bread in a hot skillet, butter side down, add a slice of mozzarella, 2 tablespoons grated parmesan, cooked burger and remaining slice of garlic bread, butter side facing up for each of the burgers .  Cook until garlic bread is crispy, flip and cook other side until crispy.

    Recipes from

    Cover Image: Flickr

    Brett Gordon's picture

    About Brett Gordon

    I'm a writer, a musician, and an almost-graduate from the University of Louisville. I currently live in Shelbyville, but please, don't hold that against me.

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