I made this, and thought it was a good first try.
It’s certainly exciting to call upon the calvaries of the refrigerator and spot the exciting pack of minced beef. Now that I’ve graduated, and the sometimes frustrating process of searching for a job once more has begun, I find myself cooped up at home more often, cooking my lunches in a bid to save money. Sure, Singapore might now be ranked as the most expensive to live in but as far as meals go, it’s definitely some of the cheapest in the developed world. I recall my last visit to Tokyo where a single Beard Papa cream puff from Shibuya costs half the price of a bowl of ramen. My single scoop Haagen Dazs single scoop ice cream in Brussels costs more than my most expensive dinner in France!
In spite of the circumstances, every cent adds up, especially since I was surprised with an experience of a lifetime: a 4-day, 3-night stay in Bali. It was a birthday gift from some friends that I was recently introduced to. Unlike so many of my “persuasion”, they sought friendship and upon meeting, there was an instantaneous chemistry to the friendship that I had long missed since Terrance and Seng Kiat. Like the latter group, I suppose you could say that we had very little in common. We each probably had other friends that we could connect with better. But somewhere, somehow, at least for me, being the “D” in “STD” was where I felt like I was belonged, where I was embraced as a collective. You see, it’s the commitment to the idea, to the friendship, that made them stand out. Bearing in mind the expenditure for my upcoming uintended and unplanned vacation, certain sacrifices had to be made.
As someone who prefers red to white meat, and someone who prefers his red to be as rare as possible without going completely “sashimi”, a beef tartare seemed like a logical first beef dish. Well, I could but the first thing on my mind wasn’t a tartare, but sliders.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ground beef: You want your patties to be juicy and to have full of rich flavors, so you’ll definitely want some fat in your beef. An 80/20 split’s pretty optimal.
Dijon mustard: I didn’t have Dijon. Instead, I used the typical Heinz ones that are more for hotdogs, which is alright. At first, I didn’t really know why, but when I tasted the finished product later, I rationalized that the mustard gave the meat a “soul” – a Western equivalent of the Asian “wok hei” spirit if you will.
Olive Oil: Ubiquitous in Western cooking.
Chopped thyme leaves: I used dried rosemary instead. Basically, it’ll do the meat good if you give it a base, a.k.a. an earthy flavor.
Chopped garlic: Another ubiquitous ingredient. If you want to save time, supermarkets sell surprisingly good quality chopped garlic in bottles for a very good price. It’s especially perfect for Spaghetti Aglio Olio.
Salt: Ubiquitous in cooking in general. A pinch will do just fine.
Black pepper: Black pepper gives it a Western character while white pepper seems to give it more of an Asian definition.
Grated Gruyere: Seeing as I still had leftover feta, I used that.
Diced mushrooms: I used a mix of Enoki and Shitake mushrooms.
Tomatoes: Sliced, of course. Not too thick, but not too thin either. I didn’t have any lettuce or roquettes with me, so I made up for the lack of greens with fairly thick slices of tomato. It gives the slider an overall refreshing outlook, too.
Place minced beef in large bowl, and add the mushrooms, garlic, mustard, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mixed gently with a fork, but make sure the end result isn’t a mash, though. Wet your hands with water, then shape the meat into 2-inch patties of equal size and thickness.
I don’t have a grill, but I used a pan which worked fine too. Place the sliders and cook for 4 minutes, then turn over for another 4 minutes. I like my beef to be rare to medium-rare, but if you’re more particular, cook it for 2 minutes longer either side. Watch the meat, because beef does overcook easily, and while overcooked chicken tastes like sawdust, overcooked beef tastes like sandy mud.
Recipes offer that you put the cheese on top of each patty before covering the pan to let it charbroil (read: steam a bit) a little in the final 2 minutes.
For buns, any butter bun from your local bakery will do just fine. Slice them half crosswise and toast the halves with the insides facing down. Butter buns from BreadTalk and Gardenia have a very fragrant buttery aroma and scent once toasted, so you may skip buttering. Others like Four Leaves’ for example, are pretty devoid of that savory essence so you might want to butter it up after toasting.
Then, plate them up really. Slider atop the bottom bun, place sliced tomato and cover with the top of bun…unless you’re into that whole deconstructed bulls**t which I assure you, is just not exciting when it’s just a party of one.
Despite the lack of beef slider “essentials” like Dijon mustard, thyme and the whole process of needing to marinate it overnight and all that jazz, the sliders turned out a lot better than I expected. The ground beef performed beautifully even though it was a little dry. I suspect I’d have near perfect results with non-halal beef, since halal meats tend to be on the dry side (for some reason). With the results I got from the kitchen, I have to really look at beef burgers across the island with a whole new perspective…simply because my attempts got me similar results as DeBurg’s. Am I just plain talented, or did DeBurg think it could get away with simple foods at such cutthroat prices? I suspect it’s the latter.