Commentary by Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
As we’ve said all along, America’s favorite food is named after an Englishman, John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich. The sandwich (food) has always led our survey of tailgating preferences and will be a hit with your guests as well.
The most copied item on today’s restaurant sandwich menus is the slider. It seems like even upscale eateries offer some kind of slider. So, let’s talk about making the most famous sliders of all, White Castle style hamburger, prepped at home and cooked at your tailgate. You can do it. We have studied how the most famous slider maker in the world, White Castle, does it and have adapted, through trial and error, the following recipe to allow you to make a hamburger slider that guests will crave. This is an improvement on the recipe we ran a couple of years ago.
1 lb. ground beef 80% lean
12 slider buns by Pepperidge Farm or Sara Lee
2 cups diced onion
Dill pickle chips
Salt and pepper
The night before use a pencil and ruler to line the center of a one-foot square sheet of parchment paper into a dozen three-inch squares. Place the ground beef onto the parchment paper and take a second sheet and cover the meat. Roll the meat with a rolling pin to ¼ inch thickness. You’ll need to trim the edges each time to put the excess meat back onto the top of the first layer/pattern. Using a large knife cut the meat into squares that match the pencil lines.
Place the meat, with parchment, onto a cookie sheet and place it into the freezer for 25-30 minutes. Take the meat out and punch five holes into each piece with something round like the large end of a chopstick or drinking straw. Replace the punched patties on parchment back into the freezer for the night.
On game day, dice the onions and place them into a sealable plastic container, cover them with water, then cover the container and place it into your food cooler for travel to the game. Also place your frozen sheets of parchment with frozen patties on trays in the food cooler.
At the tailgate, on a griddle or large frying pan spoon out the water-soaked onions and heat them until slightly crispy. Remove the meat from the freezer and break off the patties. Place the patties on the onions and cook five to seven minutes. Salt and pepper the meat slightly. Separate the buns and place the bottom of the slider buns face down on top of the patties and then place the bun tops face down atop of the bottoms. The onion and steam will cook the patties so that you can use a spatula to pick up a burger, turn it over and place the top onto the onion side. Plate these sliders and add a pickle and mustard to each.
A dozen of these will feed 3 to four gourmets who are not big eaters. If you have gourmands at your tailgate, better double the recipe. Serve with sweet potato or regular fries.
Joe Drozda, the father of American tailgating, is the author of “The Tailgater’s Handbook” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns have been read nationally since 1997.