I just love a good hamburger, don’t you? I like every kind. When we were growing up in Illinois, my parents would take Louise and me to Andy’s Hamburgers in Wilmette. Hamburgers were so exotic to my mother that she couldn’t conceive of cooking them at home. And the day the Burger King opened in Arlington Heights? Forget about it. We drove an hour just to get to it for a Whopper. When Mark and I lived in Reno and we’d fly to Knoxville to visit the in-laws, we’d make Paul stop at a Krystal right outside the airport entrance for some sliders. Now, if you’re about to say a Krystal isn’t a hamburger, it is. Of its own kind.
If you haven’t had the sliders at Chili’s with the crispy onion rings and ranch dressing on the side, you’d better get on over there. I was wolfing them down until I saw a nutrition guide that said the slider plate had more than 1,000 calories. So the other night I decided to make my own sliders. The first thing you have to do is make the patties. Get about a pound of ground chuck, no substitutions. Chuck has the most fat and you know what’s next: Fat equals flavor. Mix the ground beef with a teaspoon of salt gently and form them into little patties. Push your thumb down in the center of each one so that when you grill them, they won’t puff up to look like golf balls.
Then you light your grill or put some charcoal in the Weber, which is what I did. Notice that I put the coals on each side and the burgers in the middle. Fancy people call that “indirect” cooking because your meat won’t scorch over the flames. Give them about four minutes a side. By the way, don’t you love my Weber? It’s about thirty years old and it’s still a thing of beauty. Wish I was wearing that well.
So after you get the patties cooked, you need to think about everything else. First of all the bun. The bun is just as important as the burger. It has to be soft and you have to grill it, too, to give it that little bit of crunch. I used some potato rolls from the Publix, but
those sweet Hawaiian rolls would also be very tasty. Mayonnaise is essential, in my book. Duke’s, of course. And fried onions, cooked slowly so they’re soft, too. Although some of those French’s fried onions in a can would be really good here. And you want some cheese, too. Just put the slices on the burgers right on the grill until it gets nice and melty.
And here’s the end result – ta-da! You know, I don’t want to take any money away from Chili’s or any other restaurant that serves a superior slider in these hard times. But we’re all pinching pennies, aren’t we? And you can make these little boys for a lot cheaper than the $11 you’ll get charged in a restaurant. I’m such a cheapskate, I know. Someday I’ll tell you about my styrofoam cups. I have a collection. But that’s another day.