Spit Ballin' The Slider

The Slider

1 lb ground meatish substance
Mini buns or dinner roles.

2 tbsp Mayo
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce

Now, I don't know how you were introduced to the Slider. If you were an east coaster as a tot, then in all likelihood you've been indoctrinated since birth. Us west coast kids weren't nearly as fortunate.

I mean we had our burger joints. The golden arches, the flame broiled kings, the square patties being pitched by deaf old ladies in drive throughs. "Where's the beef?"

Where's the beef indeed.

In highschool we had a little place called the Hamburger Stand, which, for $8, you could purchase eight cheese burgers, four orders of fries, and two cokes. They knew their market.

(their market being stoned teenagers.)

Sounds ridiculous now, but you gotta remember, that was when gas out here was ninety-six cents a gallon, and I was a very rich man working part time for $5.75/hour.  A very rich man.

Now the east coasters had White Castle, whose burgers were a bit taller with less of a circumference, but they tasted pretty much the same and you always found that you ate exactly three too many. As Luis C.K. says "The meal's not finished when you're full . . . the meal is finished when you hate yourself."

I'm paraphrasing.

Anyway, I think I was in my thirties when I was formally introduced to the "Gourmet" Slider. It was  love at first sight, even if it wasn't a healthy love, nor was the love reciprocal. I could take a slider home to meet my mother, but I would be warned not to get too involved.

"I just don't want to see you get your heart broken." she would say.

Which she would mean literally.

My love obviously hasn't abated . . . matured maybe . . . an older man's love. Soft, tender, and not driven by urgency. Experienced.

Concerned with good hygiene, maybe.

But it does sort of beg the question, why sliders and not full sized burgers?

The answer is very very simple:


A burger is a wonderful wonderful thing, but you only get one of them. Sometimes you're in the mood for many different things; sautéed onions, or ketchup, or jalapeños, or smoked gouda. Sliders give you the opportunity to experiment with many different partners during the same meal.

A slider is completely noncommittal. You don't gotta put a ring on it.

Anyhoo, here is my mix of recipes for the perfect home made sliders.

The Meat:
I go ground beef cause it's easy, cheap, everybody likes it, even the vegetarians, who have a tendency to come over to my house whenever they have a hankering to break their chastity belts. You can go ground turkey if you want, and if you have the stomach for gloppy red goo, try ground chicken. I did that once, and I'm grateful, for I never will have to do that again. Slow cooked meat works fabulously too, but that's a different recipe all together, which I've got slated for a few weeks from now.

Vegetarian burgers are (oh god how I hate to admit this) not too bad either. But here's the thing: The stuff you buy pre-packed at the grocery store is disgusting and insulting and if you ever serve it to a guest again, you're not allowed to be my friend.

No . . . if you're gonna go veggie-burger . . . make it from scratch . . . you animal. It's not hard, at all. Some mushrooms, some brown quinoa, a little breadcrumb to hold it together. Look it up online. They don't go on the grill well, but they pan fry perfectly. You may even convert yourself . . . if even only for a few bites.

Using the ground beef, cut the package into little squares, and flatten each patty with one little push down. If you remember from last month's blog on ground beef patties, it's a no-no to roll and squish.

When you roll and squish, the proteins and fats will start linking together and that's how you gets swelling and burnt edges and raw middles. Trust me, just a single nice firm push down, sprinkle salt and drop on the heat. The patty won't be uniformly shaped . . . but neither is your mouth.

Cook until you see the edges start to crisp up and then flip. They're done when you start to smell a bit of char.

Which leads us to the next question:

To Cheese or Not to Cheese?
Now I'm a cheese lover. No mistaking that. But lately I've begun to wonder if cheese makes much of a difference (Again, another reason to love sliders is that you can try a burger without cheese and not have to regret it all day long). It certainly adds a creamy gooey texture, and it definitely has curb appeal, but wouldn't even the flavor of a really sharp extra sharp cheddar can get lost under a tiny glob of mustard?

In back to back taste trials, my suspicion was confirmed, though the cheese-less slider felt unfinished. I can't explain it better than that.

Finish your burger.

But don't go all gourmet here, a $20 slice of grass fed locally grown goat cheese ain't gonna do much more than a slice of Kraft's American singles. Bleu Cheese is the exception. If you like Bleu Cheese.

Rule of thumb: You can add many toppings . . . however . . . the more you add . . . the less you gone taste . . . so be reasonable. The height of the slider should never go above your mouth's ability to get a full bite. My perfect stack goes like this; bun, meat, cheese, bacon, sautéed onions, sauce, bun.

Sky's the limit here as long as you obey the first rule. My only suggestion is that you don't put anything on that doesn't add either flavor or texture.

Lettuce is fine if it's really crunchy. Tomatoes are fine if they are home grown and thinly sliced and lightly salted. Mushrooms are fine, jalapeños good, whatever.

What's really important is the sauce.

The Sauce:
Ketchup and/or mayo are fine. Boring . . . but fine. I like mustard, my wife implicitly does not. Barbecue sauce is a thing, but if you go that route, reduce all the other ingredients because you're not gonna taste anything else. Ranch is pretty good, but save that for your tater tots.

Anyway . . . my newest, favoritest thing in the known universe is a simple Spicy Mayo.

It's two parts mayonnaise to one part sriracha sauce. You can make it your self. You should make it yourself.

First the mayo: Now I respect the Miracle Whip crowd. Bologna, Miracle Whip, Wonder Bread and suddenly you're wondering what Eddie Haskel and your brother Wally are up to today.

You have your Miracle Whip . . . I've got my Debbie Gibson albums.

I also respect the DIY perfect mom recipes on Pinterest. My only beef with that is the raw egg, limited shelf life, and having to clean my food processor.

No . . . in my house . . . it's Best Foods REAL Mayonnaise or it's nothing. No knock off brands, nothing with the word "light" in the name or with some thing that says "homestyle"

Joann tried that once and it's literally the only time we've ever had an argument that lasted more than a week. I've since forgiven her, but it took most of a decade.

Anyway, if you don't already have some sriracha sauce in the fridge, my only question to you is how exactly did you get an internet connection in that cave you've been living in since 1987?

What makes sriracha hot sauce the new Ranch Dressing is that it it has a sweet peppery flavor/aroma followed by a good heat. Most sauces are all heat. Trust me. Try it and you'll never go back to anything ever again. Ever.

So two parts mayo, one part sriracha, mix with a spoon, lightly spread on the bun.


Pro Tip: If you make too much, don't fret. It'll fridge up to a week and you can add it to your sandwiches or if you made too too much, it'll make the best tuna/chicken salad you've ever had.

Obviously you can adjust the ratio if it's too hot.


The Bun:
Now pictured above are some sesame seeded slider buns I found at Trader Joes. I was a little worried that the seeds would be enough to turn the stomach of my nine-year-old partial skeleton, but he liked it. Whew. They come in an eight pack and are a little stiff, but toast up well.

My favorite buns to use are actually regular old dinner roles. They're the right size, soft and chewy, and can be used for other meals. You can get slider buns specifically made for sliders, but the specificity of them means you always end up with two to four extra that go bad before you use them again. Dinner roles are the way to go.

Prep your toppings. Cook the meat. Toast the buns. Use the same meat pan to sauté the onions or mushrooms (meld flavors and reduce clean-up). Assemble. I could say that this is a crowd pleaser, but you know that already.

Serve with carrot sticks and tator tots.

Or hot wings. What do I care?

1 comment:

  1. Great recipe, but sadly most of the good stuff is no longer on my diet, no fat, sugar, alcohol, or carbs. shoot me now!