Friday, May 21, 2010

Homemade Beef Sliders

Delicious little mini burgers made with very thin meat patties, melted cheese and real minced onion.

Homemade Beef Sliders

I don't mean to imply that these are authentic "Sliders" or "Slyders" because heaven forbid that someone scold me for trying to claim these little mini burgers to be an authentic copycat of the original White Castle Slyders - which by the way, we never had around here. Only Krystal's little yummy burgers were available around this part of The Deep South, but they sure were a favorite late night after party snack after a long night of dancing back in the days of disco.

Yes. I was a little bit of a party girl back in the day. Hey! Don't judge. I did grow up in a beach resort town you know. Well, I'm not looking to duplicate an authentic "Slyder" only to make yummy, mini burgers at home, somewhat reminiscent of those Krystal burgers that I remember.

I poked around the internet for the different versions of how other people were making homemade sliders, and found that there are basically two methods used in the preparation part. One involves pressing or rolling the meat out very thin usually over a bed of minced, dried onion. The raw meat is scored, then partially frozen, then has a series of holes poked all over the patties, then frozen more solid, before finally cooking the individual patties. Sometimes the onion is added to the grill pan and the raw meat patties cooked on top on the onion. The holes are purportedly to help steam the top of the meat because at White Castle, the beef is cooked on top of the onion scattered on the grill, with the buns on top, so the meat is never flipped.

The other way, and the one that seemed much more sensible to me, was to just let the oven do the work. Just call me the audasticbombasiticrebelistic chick that I am, because I am all about the ease of things, so oven it is. Besides, I saw that some of my smartest foodie friends did it this way too. I did notice that mostly folks seemed to be using dried onions though, because that was supposed to be more authentic, but I personally like these little burger bombs with fresh, though finely minced onion, and a lot of them. Yum. How 'bout we make some?

I like the use of ground chuck for sure and have found that while one pound is not quite enough for the 10 x 15 inch jelly roll style baking pan that I use, two pounds is too much since you really want the meat to be very thin. Here we are rolling the meat as thin as we possibly can with this method and I feel it calls for a fatty meat to retain the juices, rather than a more lean ground beef. Course, we'll pour that fat off after it cooks. Just place a layer of plastic wrap over the meat and roll away until the meat is spread out nice and thin across the baking pan. 

Remove the plastic wrap and discard it. Bake the meat at 350 degrees until cooked through, about 15 minutes. When the meat comes out of the oven, you'll see that is has shrunk and drawn in, making it a little bit thicker from where you started. That is why I like rolling the meat ultra-thin before it cooks, using a rolling pin.  I had a bit of a split this time, but don't fret if that happens. It'll work out, promise.

Top with the shredded cheese and return to the oven, just long enough to melt the cheese.

Score the meat with a pizza cutter for the size buns that you have.  I like to use the dinner rolls that are about 2 x 2 inches in size. This time The Cajun picked up rolls that were 4 x 2 so I cut them more oblong to fit the rolls. It was sort of like a two for one slider. Just score them the size that you need them for the rolls you have.

I noticed some people seasoned the meat with a variety of different seasonings - salt, pepper, seasoning salt, garlic powder - and I even saw one recipe incorporating some beef baby food (for a smoother textured meat I think, but no thanks). I prefer to season these little jewels with only the raw onion and not a thing else, because to me they tasted more authentic that way. Sliced cheddar also seemed to be the common denominator around the net too, but I don't have a good cheese slicer, so I just shredded it. I'm thinking however, that good ole processed American cheese is a good choice here, or you could simply go no cheese at all.  Dress it with mustard, or ketchup, a pickle, or however if you like them.

I've made these several times already and they are just delicious and great to have on hand wrapped up in the fridge. Once they cooled a bit, I put them back into the roll bag and then when we wanted another one or two, wrapped them individually in paper towels and microwaved on high for just about 30 to 45 seconds or until hot. That's, of course, if you have any leftover, because make a batch and watch how fast they disappear. Great make-ahead for tailgating - wrap in foil and throw on the grill to warm.

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Recipe: Homemade Beef Sliders

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 16 min | Yield: About 24 sliders

  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds of ground chuck
  • 2 cups of finely minced raw onion
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar
  • Dinner style rolls (approximately 2 x 2 inches square)

Wrap rolls in aluminum foil and warm in the oven, if desired, as directed on the package, but remember that you want them soft, not crisp! Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan with butter flavor cooking spray. Sprinkle the uncooked, chopped onion evenly all over the baking pan. Grab the meat in big chunks and flatten into thin, large patties, scattering them on top of the onions, close together. Press the patties together. Place a large strip of plastic wrap over the top of the meat, and use a rolling pin to roll it out flat and even. The meat will shrink up and be thicker as it cooks, so you want it very, very thin to start off.  Remove and discard the plastic wrap.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Carefully drain off the fat into a container. Scatter the shredded cheese on top and return to the oven for about 1 minute or so, just until cheese has melted. Cut into equal squares to fit the type of rolls you have. How many you get out of a batch will depend on the size you cut them.

When I use a 2 x 2 inch roll, I can generally get about 24 sliders on a 10 x 15 inch baking sheet. For this batch, the rolls that The Cajun grabbed for me were actually 2 x 4 inch in size, so with the trimmings counted and added to a bun, I got 14 sliders from this batch. Enjoy!

Pimento Cheese Sliders Variation: Make these Pimento Cheese Sliders by replacing the shredded cheddar with my Basic Pimento Cheese or Roasted Red Pepper Pimento Cheese.


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