Attacking The Burger Defense

Photo via Pam's Pics- on Flickr

On Saturday, Denver Nuggets player Al Harrington took the Bugsy Challenge at Burger Joint at Flamingo Las Vegas. The Bugsy Challenge consists of a burger with six one-third-pound burger patties, six types of cheese (American, cheddar, pepper jack, fresh house-made mozzarella, Swiss and panko-crusted deep-fried provolone), chorizo, sautéed mushrooms, black and tan onion rings, three strips of applewood smoked bacon, three strips of cayenne peppered bacon and a fried egg, all oozing with Burger Joint’s special pink peppercorn aioli.

This massive burger is accompanied by a cast iron skillet packed with two whole potatoes cut in wedges and deep fried, then smothered in cheddar cheese sauce, three-cheese blend, crumbled bacon, sliced green onions and topped with two strips of cayenne peppered bacon.

The full Bugsy Challenge weighs in at 4.5 pounds and is on the house for anyone who can finish it. Harrington was given 45 minutes to complete the challenge and unfortunately did not succeed.

via NBA Player Al Harrington Attempts Bugsy Challenge at Burger Joint | Haute Living (via TBJ, PBT)

While it may be tempting to call Harrington a lightweight considering his relatively gargantuan size, successfully completing  food challenge has very little to do with physical size, and almost everything to do with strategy (and of course an unhealthy appetite). I’ve been in plenty of challenges among folks five times my size, and I’ve watched as they crumble before the meal is halfway done. Looking at the burger, it becomes clear that the challenge can’t be conquered without a game plan. And in the case that Al Harrington (or anyone, really) find themselves at Burger Joint in Las Vegas, here are my suggestions that might could be the difference between a last-second victory, and a (pants) blowout:

1. Identify the 2-3 Zone, and cut through it.

The burger’s towering stature makes it fairly clear that the burger will have to be deconstructed for any kind of progress to be achieved. I suggest removing the pick/skewer from the burger and creating a burger with both top and bottom bun with the two (2) deep-fried elements seen in the top portion of the burger, and  three (3) patties. The remaining patties, bacon, mushrooms, and whatever else is hiding should be left on the plate for later. This newly constructed burger is still fairly large, but it’s a much more manageable portion. The onion rings will add some crunch to break the monotony of texture in the burger, while the fried provolone along with the fried egg (which hopefully has a runny yolk) will provide some moisture to help you ease into the groove of consumption.

2. Keep an eye out on the perimeter. 

In the description, there are two whole potatoes that are smothered in terribly fattening substances in a cast iron skillet just waiting in the wings. Don’t lose sight of them — they might lead to your downfall if you do. By the time the makeshift 3-patty burger is finished, the potatoes should be cool enough that when you bite into it, you won’t be hit with a shot of steam and still-hot fryer oil. The last thing you need in a challenge like this is a damaged tongue. It’ll destroy your appetite, and once that’s out of the game, so are you. However, waiting to eat the potato last is also a bad idea. Not only is the entire thing full of starches that will make your already full stomach expand to uncomfortable levels, they’ll be cold by the last five minutes of the challenge. When warm, the potato will still hold enough of the moisture from the steam to glide down smoothly. Once it’s cold, the starch granules will become noticeably drier and grainier, and will quickly ruin your momentum.

3. Attack the interior, close out strong. 

This is the final stretch. Three beef patties, and the filler that surrounds it are all that’s left that stand in the way. Take out your knife and fork, and carve away. Proteins are a lot easier to eat cold than starches. And if it gets a little too dry, dousing the entire plate in Pepto Bismol should do the trick.


Happy eating. 

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