I know it’s a stretch to write a food blog post and even attempt a segue from the news about the passing of Steve Jobs, but here it is: Mr. Jobs liked things small. I recently read that he once had an aha moment while pondering the appeal of Mini Coopers and realized that they’re cool for really no other reason than because they’re small. Well, mini food is cool, too — think street tacos, soup in shot glasses, cake pops. And of course sliders. Actually, I’m not sure if sliders are really cool, but they are delicious and fun to eat. I think it’s because they’re “just right” in terms of proportion of meat to bread and, yes, they’re so damn cute — like an iPod Shuffle.
I made these sliders with ground elk, which is very lean and not gamey at all. Really. But if you don’t have a hunter in the family, these would be just as good (and almost as healthy) made with ground buffalo or turkey, or even grass-fed beef. For the buns, I had some leftover hot dog buns so I cut them in thirds, lightly buttered them, and stuck them under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Ciabatta is also good (no, great). I’ve seen tiny potato rolls in the bakery before, and I bet those would be perfect. I cooked these indoors on a grill pan because it was pouring out, but if you do cook them over an open flame, I would probably put them on a piece of tinfoil first so they don’t dry out. I served the sliders with a mixture of green and waxed beans that were blanched and tossed with a little olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon. And ketchup of course. It made a simple family meal that everyone in my family, even my slightly meat-phobic daughter, loved.
1 lb. ground elk (or other lean meat)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch dried herbs (oregano or parsley)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
salt & pepper
Sliced cheese (I used Swiss)
Rolls or bread for buns (and butter)
In a large bowl, combine meat with egg, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and bread crumbs. Mix well with your hands. To make the patties, use about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture for each one and roll into a ball, then flatten slightly. Put the patties on a sheet of tinfoil, and use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each one to keep it from shrinking into nothingness when you cook it. Heat a grill pan (or skillet) over high heat (I used my ancient Calphalon grill pan on my hottest gas burner). When it’s hot, cook the patties for about 6 minutes until browned, then flip and cook another 4-6 minutes depending on how you like them. Add the cheese (about a 1 1/2-inch square is all you need for each burger) during the last 2 minutes of cooking and loosely cover the pan with a lid. While cheese is melting, toast the bread and get out some salad plates; you won’t be needing the big ones tonight.
This recipe makes about 12-14 mini burgers. If you’re really hungry (like my husband), you will probably eat about eight. I ate three. Okay, maybe four.