Making Our Own Heat

So Punxsutawney Phil says 6 more weeks of winter.  Fortunately, here, in NC, we have a nice smattering of spring like temperatures throughout the winter, so we took advantage of one of the nicer days to start working out the kinks of a grill staple: The Slider!  At the age of 13, I cut meat out of my diet and was not able to successfully reintegrate it, until recently.  Due to the large gap, I am less experienced with meat and hope that you all will give your feedback on what YOU do with yours.

Here’s what I did…I made sliders 3 ways with a side of oven baked waffle chips (also grilled some potatoes), homemade ketchup and sriracha mayo.  I used ground sirloin for the meat and seasoned it lightly, with only salt, pepper, a touch of garlic and onion powder, a splash of soy and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.  I purchased 3 types of rolls, one farmstyle roll and two pull apart dinner rolls to use as buns, which were underwhelming.

Slider option 1:  Blue cheese burger with bacon lardons on a dinner roll

blue cheese burger

This was my favorite!  Bacon lardons are very simple to make! Take your favorite thick cut bacon and slice into 1/4 inch pieces.  Heat a frying pan to medium and toss in your bacon.  Allow the pieces to brown, about 7 minutes, then set aside.  Store them in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.  Next time I will make a port wine reduction to top this burger off.  For the burger, just take your seasoned meat and add crumbled blue cheese to taste (I used about 4 oz in 1 lb of meat).  Form into 2 oz balls then press your thumb into the center to make an imprint (this keeps the meat from falling apart as it’s cooking).

burgers cooking

Slider Option 2:  Traditional burger topped with a parmesan crisp and homemade ketchuptrad burger

Nothing is as simple as making parmesan crisps! And they add that little bit of extra crispy delight that will tantalize your taste buds.  Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese into piles that are about 2 inches in diameter.  Bake for about 7 or 8 minutes, until golden brown.  You can make them ahead of time, they keep pretty well in a ziploc bag.  Most of my guests topped this one with the homemade ketchup, some also added the sriracha mayo for a spicy explosion.

Slider Option 3: Portobello Mushroom Cap with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions


This one was the underdog, but ended up being quite the crowd pleaser! Even my meatiest of man friends said THIS one was their favorite.  First, I used a wet paper towel to clean off the mushroom caps.  Don’t wash them, they may retain the water.  Then, I removed the stems from the mushrooms and, using a spoon, i scraped out some of the gilly part, to make room for the cheese.  Then, I combined some balsamic vinegar and olive oil (2 T vinegar to 6 T olive oil) in a bowl, whisked it, then brushed it on both sides of the cleaned caps.  Sprinkle those bad boys with salt and pepper, then place on the grill and cook for 4 minutes per side.  Turn them cap side down and smear a little goat cheese on the top side.


Once they come off the grill, top with caramelized onions.  If you’ve never made caramelized onions, believe me, it was no easy feat.  I will post picture instructions at a later date.  Basically, you slice your onion into crescent moons and put them in a pan with hot oil (2T for one onion) and 1 T butter.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, then throw in 1 T of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Turn your heat down to low (about a 3 if you have numbers on your stove) and cook, covered, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  The trick is to let them stick without burning.  I’m still working on this.

Overall, I’d say this even was a success.  The homemade ketchup was simple (recipe to will be in the sauces section) and so much better than store bought.  Well worth the effort.


ketchup          ketchup spoon


It went very well with both the chips and the grilled potatoes.

distant chip          tater grill

Now let’s hear from you all! How do you prep your meat?  What type of ground beef do you prefer? How do you season it and what’s your cooking time? Other suggestions? Don’t be a mouse, let’s hear it!

Photos courtesy of Ian Wilson,

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