Monday, April 26, 2010
I vividly remember my first "slider". I was a sophomore in high school and I was at the Indiana FFA Convention at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. My chapter had attended meetings and contests all day in Elliot Hall of Music and we were ready to have a little fun for the evening. We shucked off our navy blue corduroy jackets, black skirts, nylons, and pumps (slacks for the gentleman, of course) and returned to our usual summer teenager uniforms...tees, shorts, and sandals. I fluffed my permed bangs and applied another layer of pink and purple eyeshadow. I was ready for a night out in the college town! (Little did I know that a few short years later, I'd perform the same evening ritual in my Purdue dorm room, sans the bangs and purple eye shadow, as I prepped for a night of frat party hopping). We met up at our school's 15 passenger van to see what our advisor, Mr. Addison, had in store for the evening: miniature golf. Cool. After 18 holes in the muggy summer heat, we were all wilting and ready for some refreshment. The neon blue of the White Castle sign cast a glow on the park benches where we rested, ready to turn in our putters. Mr. A suggested that we walk across the parking lot to the restaurant. His eyes seemed to glow a bit as the sun slid behind the Lafayette skyline and his famous smile grew beneath his fu manchu. "Mmmm. Sliders!" What?! I thought. Sliders? That didn't sound appetizing at all. "You know, greasy gut bombs!" he replied enthusiastically. Clearly, I had been sheltered from this delicacy in my rural upbringing. And so we all trudged next door, the boys in our group joking about the intestinal effects that these "gut bombs" would produce for our roomates. Gross. Minutes later, Mr. Addison emerged with a huge sack of sliders for all to sample. I took one, carefully unwrapped it, smelled that unmistakable aroma wafting off the tiny burger. In true 16 year old fashion... I wrinkled my nose. Then I took a bite. Um, YUM! Still, I had to be cool. "What do you think?" my advisor inquired. "Uh huh. Yeah. It's okay." I answered. I wasn't about to admit that I truly enjoyed something called A SLIDER. The convention concluded, we returned home, and I went on with my busy teenager life. I didn't have another White Castle burger until I was 21 and I drove a carload full of my boyfriend (now my husband) and his fraternity brothers across town to that very same establishment and devoured part of a 10 sack in the parking lot late one night.
Mr. Addison taught me many things in my years as an FFA officer: all of the rules of parliamentary procedure (we practically memorized Robert's Rules of Order), honed my public speaking and demonstration skills, polished my livestock and soil judging skills, and drove us all over the country in that 15 passenger van, pointing out every battlefield and National Monument along the way...but today I remember him for introducing me to my very first "slider". I've decided to dedicate this post to him. Now that my youngest sister is an Ag teacher and an FFA advisor, and as a former high school teacher and club sponsor myself, I can truly appreciate his dedication and the countless hours spent away from his family to educate us and provide us with little "cultural" experiences such as this trip to White Castle.
Now I'm all grown up and I have no idea where the nearest White Castle might be. But when I saw this slider post on Noble Pig, I knew that I'd have to give it a try. My husband is a big fan of the slider and my daughters like cheeseburgers, so I figured that it'd be a hit. It was. So simple and easy, made with ingredients that were already in my fridge and pantry, it came together quickly and everyone ate them. My five year old ate 3 in quick succession! I've seen other blog posts about sliders...I've even posted my own meatball slider recipe, but this one seemed the easiest for a Monday night dinner.
To begin, sprinkle dried, minced onion into the bottom of a 9 X 13 in baking dish. My advice is to liberally sprinkle the onion into the bottom of the dish. These were delicious, but I wish that I'd used more onion.
Next, pat 2 lbs. of 80/20 ground beef into the dish. It has to be 80/20 or the burgers will be dry. (Dry is not a characteristic of sliders) Season with seasoning salt. Again, I say liberally, because you want them to have lots of flavor. Really, no one who considers eating a slider is even remotely concerned about their sodium intake at the moment of consumption. There are so many other things to worry about here...
Bake the ground beef at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. It shrinks quite a bit as the fat cooks off. I drained this fat. I couldn't help myself.
Now top the beef with 6 slices of American cheese and return the dish to the oven for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
While the cheese melts, open a package of dinner rolls. Separate them.
Then slice em' in half. I ended up putting the plate of sliced rolls into the oven for a few minutes so that they got extra soft and warm.
Cut your giant cheeseburger into slider-sized portions. I found that 3 vertical slices and 5 horizontal slices created the perfect size of patty for the dinner rolls. Of course, I only had a dozen rolls, so there were three patties left over.
Finally, I assembled my sliders. Put a patty between each roll, then top with pickles.
Sliders from Noble Pig who adapted them from Big Red Kitchen
Ground chuck (80/20) 2 pounds for a 9 x 13 pan, 2-1/2 pounds for a 10 x 15 pan
Dried, minced onion
6 slices of cheese
Sliced dill pickles
Dinner rolls, any brand
Sprinkle dried minced onion on the bottom of a 9 x 13 or 10 x 15 pan. Use as much as you like.
Press ground chuck into pan, on top of onions until it completely covers the bottom. Use two pounds of ground chuck if you are using a 9 x 13 pan or 2-1/2 pounds of ground chuck if you are using a 10 x 15 pan. Sprinkle the meat with seasoning salt.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. (Make sure you use an 80/20 mixture of ground beef, otherwise your burgers will be dry.)
The meat will shrink in the oven. After 25 minutes remove and cover with six slices of cheese. Place meat back in the oven for two minutes until the cheese is melted.
With a pizza cutter or a knife, slice the meat into as many square pieces as you have rolls.
Place the meat in between the bun with some of the onion and pop on a few dill pickles. You are ready to serve.
* A note: The next time that I make these, I might try adding a packet of onion soup mix to the beef and maybe even some fresh diced onion. My husband asked if I added onion to these...which means that there was not enough onion to rival that White Castle flavor.
To download or print this recipe, click here!