2014 Honorable Mention Recipe Contest 11th Place – Chicken Apple Burger

Chef Richie here, at your service!

Our final honorable mention recipe for the 2014 Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci recipe contest, before I begin choosing and then testing the finalists for this year’s recipe contest this summer, comes from Chef Paul VanSavage. And, Chef Paul, Chef Richie Says: Just in time for any chefs favorite season, grilling season! Chef Richie also Says: If any of the honorable mention prizewinning recipes I’ve written about are truly “a whole greater than the sum of its parts”, this is the big daddy of them all. I hope you, the reader, will “togliersi lo sfizio” (accept the challenge) and get cookin’. If any of you have cooked some or all of the recipes in Chef Richie Says then this will be your final exam. It’s the most involved and complicated recipe of the group. Chef Paul, you’ve really done it this time. GREAT job! Even I was challenged, in a truly professional chef’s way, and the results were well worth the effort!

Congratulations Chef Paul! You will be receiving a deluxe gift assortment of Bella Sun Luci ingredients, as recognition for a job extraordinarily well done, to help you invent a new wonderful recipe for the 2015 recipe contest. I can’t wait to see what you come up with this time!

And everyone who has at all followed me on this blogalicious journey, I’ve very much enjoyed writing to you, for you and with you, communicating and getting to know you all through our mutual love for fine, flavorful food and the Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci Mediterranean diet. I hope that you home chefs will continue your creative culinary commitment to excellence and keep in touch with me. Chef Richie Says: Rock on!!!

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken-Apple Burger Topped with Onion Straws and Dressed with Sun Dried Tomato Aoli (serves 8)


*Sun Dried Tomato/Vegetable Blend

  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Large Sweet Apples, peeled
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Cup Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Cut in Olive Oil and Herbs
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil from Sun Dried Tomato Jar
  • *Onion Straws
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion
  • 2 Cups Buttermilk
  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Cornstarch
  • 1 Teaspoon Table Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt


  • 2 Cups Sun Dried Tomato/Vegetable Blend
  • ½ Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, minced
  • 2 Teaspoon Fresh Sage, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
  • 3 lbs. Ground Chicken
  • Canola Oil

*Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

  • 1 ½ Cups Mayonnaise
  • ½ Cup Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Cut, in Olive Oil and Herbs

*8 Hamburger Rolls

*Iceberg Lettuce


Since this recipe consists of a number of components the directions are spelled out in the order in which they are executed, moving from component to component as necessary.

*Sun Dried Tomato/Vegetable Blend

Finely mince the onion, garlic, apples, celery, add the salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and set aside in a mixing bowl. Finely mince the Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Cut, in Olive Oil and Herbs and set aside separately.

*Onion Straws

Slice the onion very thin. Mix the Hot Pepper Sauce with the buttermilk in a baking dish, add the onion and let soak for an hour at room temperature.

*Sun-Dried Tomato/Vegetable Blend

Sauté the minced onion, garlic, apple and celery in the olive oil reserved from the Sun Dried Tomato jar until vegetables are softened, approximately ten minutes, add the minced Sun-Dried Tomatoes, remove from heat and thoroughly chill.

*Onion Straws

Combine the remaining Onion Straw ingredients; flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl and set aside. Preheat standard oven to 170 degrees.


Combine the chicken, Sun Dried Tomato/Vegetable Blend, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Form eight patties and refrigerate.

*Sun Dried Tomato Aioli

Finely mince the Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Cut, in Olive Oil and Herbs. Combine the Sun-Dried Tomatoes and the mayonnaise in food processor and pulse until smooth.

*Onion Straws

In a large skillet or wok, heat the Canola Oil to 375 degrees. Remove the onion rings from the buttermilk mixture, shake off excess buttermilk and add to the flour mixture. Then thoroughly shake off excess flour and add to the hot oil in small batches. Fry a few minutes until golden, remove and place on paper towels, lightly sprinkle with Kosher Salt, then transfer to a baking rack placed in a sheet pan. Keep warm in the preheated oven.


The burgers are best cooked on a griddle or in a large skillet. You can do so on a gas grill, charcoal grill or stove top. If using a grill, preheat the gas grill or charcoal grill to medium, place griddle on grates and keep covered. If using a stove, heat the griddle or skillet on medium heat. Lightly oil the griddle or skillet with Canola Oil.

Gently form eight patties and place on an oiled griddle. Cook the burgers for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Move patties to a serving platter and loosely cover with aluminum foil to keep warm until serving.

*Sun Dried Tomato Chicken-Apple Burger Topped With Onion Straws and Dressed with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

Spread Sun Dried Tomato Aioli on the bottom halves of the rolls, then a layer of lettuce. Place a burger pattie on the lettuce, and top with Onion Straws. Add more Aioli to the top half of the roll.

Buon Appetito!

Happy cooking and, as Chef Paul says, as I love to say, buon appetito!

Con amore,

Chef Richie Hirshen, Corporate Chef

Mooney Farms and Bella Sun Luci. Chico, CA

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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