Sliders -- small burgers -- were once the fare of a select few fast food joints. Now these little gems are turning up at the fanciest of restaurants and plated with the best of care. Making your own sliders at home is easy, fun, economical and a sure-fire way to keep friends and family coming back for more.
Mixing the Meat
Season your ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. For an extra kick, add some hot sauce, minced bell pepper, Italian seasoning or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or oregano. Mix in a bit of Parmesan cheese, which adds flavor and holds together lean meat in a thin patty. If you're making a thick patty, stick a cube of cheddar or jack cheese in the middle for an inside-out cheeseburger.
Thick or Thin, Round or Square
Fashion your baby burgers with an eye toward style and meat-to-bun proportion. Slider presses for either square or round burgers ensure uniform cooking times. If you don't have a press, use a small measuring cup or a jar cap lined with plastic wrap. Weigh or measure the meat for each patty.
Use about an ounce of meat for thin patties, either round or square. For a square burger, make the edge of the patty a little larger than the middle to avoid burned or droopy edges.
For a thicker burger, double the amount of meat and make a dimple in the middle of your 1/8-pounder so that it doesn't plump like a baseball during cooking.
Ground beef with a high fat content shrinks during cooking so make the patty bigger than the bun all the way around. The leanest ground beef shrinks less, but allow a little extra around the edges to ensure that your burgers don't get buried in the bun.
Pick a bun that suits your fancy as well as the size and shape of your slider patty.
Choose a sturdy crusted brioche, a soft dinner roll, a mini-french roll or a pared-down standard bun that will stand up to a bigger juicy burger.
Square sliders fit on Hawaiian sweet rolls, chunks of ciabatta or even into baby pita pockets. In a pinch, square up a bottom-rung bun to emulate the classic burger chain slider.
The bun dictates the size and shape of your slider patty. To toast or not to toast, that is your question. Most definitely, warm your buns.
Grill, Broil or Fry
Make a test patty first to determine a proper cooking time before you throw your entire batch on the grill, into the pan or under the broiler. No matter your cooking choice, flip the burger only once.
Thin and square 1/16-inch patties take about a minute on each side in a pan, grill or broiler.
Round fatty patties take a bit longer.
If you are unsure about doneness, use a meat thermometer and shoot for an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit as recommended by the USDA.
Arrange a build-it-yourself condiment bar. Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles are a must, as are ketchup, barbecue sauce and different varieties of mustard ranging from mild to spicy. Provide grilled onions and chili for an extra-sloppy slider. Serve with sides of coleslaw -- some like to put it right on the burger -- and potato salad.