Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Slide or Not to Slide

For quite some time, I've had mixed feelings about sliders. The slider-craze is out of control, with the mini-burgers popping up on menus all over the place, from upscale restaurants, to happy-hour bar menus, even to fast food drive-thrus! What's so special about bite-size burgers, and why are they kicking their king-size big brothers out of the limelight?

After a little investigation, I think I have the answer. Nothing can beat the charred, outdoor grilled, big 'n' juicy BBQ burger (with it's promise of summer, fun, baseball, and beer in every bite)... but there is something delicious, different, and a little bit 'gourmet' about a slider. With approximately 2-bites per burg, one doesn't feel overly full, and the flavor is exciting from start to finish. Also, (some meat-purists out there might disagree) my favorite part of a burger is the charred, grilled, seasoned, sometimes cheesy, sort of crunchy and caramelized outer layer. The slider provides the perfect ratio of flavorful outer layer to juicy inner burger, something that it's plus-size counterpart lacks. The idioms are true when it comes to sliders...'everything is better in moderation,' and 'dynamite comes in small packages.'

How did I arrive at this conjecture? After initial distrust, hesitation, and even trash-talk about the baby-burger revolution, I have officially jumped on the slider bandwagon. It all started last week, at BalMar happy hour, with one little, delicious burst-of-flavor that kept me yearning for more (slider accompanied by fries with truffle aioli) , and was further intensified after I ate one too many full size burgers (on top of one too many full size beers) last weekend. What finally pushed me over the edge, to the slider-side, was the simple act of making (and devouring) my own sliders.

My delectable little beef morsels, sandwiched between toasted baguette slices, were covered in melty, gooey jack cheese, slathered with spicy, smokey chipotle mayo, and piled high with greens, lettuce, avocado, tomato, radishes, and my kick-ass-honey-mustard-caramelized red onions. With so much flavor jammed into such a tiny package, they were 10 times better than the best burger I've ever made. They were fun to make, even more fun to eat, and Evan and I both felt satisfied without being overly full and weighed down.

To make chipotle mayo, simply mix together mayonnaise, chipotle peppers in adobo- add sauce and chopped pepper (more or less depending on how much heat you can handle), and a dash of liquid smoke, which really brings out the smokiness of the chipotles (which are smoked jalapenos). For ooey-gooey, super carameltastic, extra delicious caramelized onions, my secret is to mix in honey and brown mustard right before you take the onions off the heat. It works every time. Now... to REALLY enjoy the mayo and the onions, promptly jump on the slider-train and never look back!

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