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#1007 - Sliders
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Football season is in full-swing, and a lot of us are looking for ideas to help feed that hungry huddle of fans that keep coming over every Sunday afternoon. One of the most popular new foods is actually an updated variation of an American classic, and that would be the slider. As Jerry can attest, sliders are showing up everywhere from street corners to the corner bar, to fine restaurants who want to have a little fun.
Exact origins are known: The White Castle chain of restaurants, founded by Walter Anderson. The 1906 novel "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair revealed grossly unsanitary practices in the American meat industry. Gound beef in particular took it on the chin. Anderson knew that if he could change the image of ground beef (which was very cheap), and feature it in a hyper-sanitary setting, he could make money. So, he started White Castle in 1921. His featured item was a 2 1/2" square burger on an equally small bun that he nicknamed the "slider". You were encouraged to buy them by the bag, a half dozen at a time.
Today, the concept of the small burger has been revived with a vengeance. Virtually any kind of protein that can be ground up and formed into a patty has staked a claim. Ground pork, ground lamb, ground turkey, even ground tuna have been fashioned into sliders. Complimenting the patty are a wide variety of condiments and flourishes limited only by imagination.
The White Castle method for cooking the thin 2 1/2" patties was to cover the griddle with a layer of moist raw onion. As the onions cooked, the beef patties were placed on top of them to steam. In addition, the bottom of the roll was placed face down to get that special treatment.
In Baltimore, we had the Little Tavern chain which opened in 1928. My father somehow secured their secret slider recipe (or so he said) which makes sense and tastes authentic. He used good ground beef, finely minced onion, garlic powder and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. I make them and serve them on a special Martin's Potato Roll that have been designed for sliders. I like to top mine off with slices of tomato and cheese...and lots of catsup, of course.
Here's a short list of some great slider ideas, all using the basic beef patty:
-sweet potato and caramelized onions
-bacon, garlic mashed potatoes and grilled peppers
-horseradish and grilled asparagus tips
-gorganzola and roasted portabello slices
-feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes and tapinade