[DNAinfo/Janet Rausa Fuller]
May is National Burger Month, so each week DNAinfo is bringing you the story of a unique burger and its maker.
RIVER NORTH — Too lean. Not flavorful. Pointless. No amount of cheese or barbecue sauce can thwart the cascade of derisive comments tossed at the long-suffering turkey burger.
But take the burger over the top — or, specifically, to the fourth Thursday in November, when the national mood shifts in favor of turkey and all its accouterments — and it's a different animal entirely.
And why not bridge that gap, argues Amanda Downing, chef and partner at Rockit Bar and Grill, 22 W. Hubbard St. You’ve heard of Christmas in July? Thanksgiving in May is a thing, too.
“People love those flavors. I know it’s six months away, but you get that six-month yearning for Thanksgiving dinner,” Downing said.
Which brings us to her carb-friendly Bring Back Thanksgiving Burger, combining all the components of the holiday meal. It’s available for one day only at Rockit — Wednesday, not Thursday.
All the elements of the Turkey Day meal in one towering burger. [DNAinfo/Janet Rausa Fuller]
This is in fact the most wonderful time of year at the River North restaurant, Downing said. It’s Rockit's 11th annual Burger Fest, where they feature a different burger each day. She can count on one hand the number of times they have repeated a burger in all those years.
“We have to build this menu three months ahead of time. We can finally do what we got excited about months ago,” said Downing, who it should be noted has won either the top prize or the people’s choice award in three of the last four Roscoe Village Burger Fests. “It’s taking that blank canvas of a burger and making it fun.”
Fun is one way of putting it. Outrageously stacked is another.
The grilled patty on the Thanksgiving burger is a blend of white and dark turkey meat ground in house, flecked with celery, carrots, scallions and herbs and seasoned with a bit of sriracha. Egg and bread crumb bind it together and keep it tender.
Downing sets the patty on a bun smeared with cranberry mustard aioli and tops it, in this order, with: Parker House roll stuffing, heavy on the sage; a frizzled heap of crispy shoestring sweet potatoes, and a ladle of giblet gravy.
At this point, it’s a good six inches tall, and it’s not done.
Downing spreads Marshmallow Fluff on top of the top bun and takes a handheld torch to it, toasting it to a caramelized brown. It smells like home.
The brussels sprout, green bean and dried cherry slaw served on the side is non-negotiable. Eat your veggies, Mom always says.
The Bring Back Thanksgiving Burger is $16 as are the rest of the Burger Week burgers at Rockit.
Rockit chef Amanda Downing celebrates her 11th Burger Week with a Thanksgiving-inspired burger. [DNAinfo/Janet Rausa Fuller]
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