Sunday, February 28, 2010

Krystal burgers

Its no secret: I typically spend my lunch hour scouring the Internet for food blogs and new recipes. My time is mostly filled up by Pioneer Woman because I just flat-out love everything she posts, whether it be about cooking, her house, fun things to buy, or photography. Besides, every recipe that I have ever tried of hers has been nothing short of absolutely fantastic (and might I add, the steps to get to this fantastic-ness have always been relatively simple and easy to follow), which makes me a devout reader of PW.

Thanks to PW, I also browse both the Tasty Kitchen blog and the Tasty Kitchen website, where I contribute recipes and make cooking "friends" under the name mrsnaglich. One day, somewhere in all this searching around, I stumbled upon this: Big Red Kitchen

It sounded fun, primarily because I also want a big red kitchen someday. As I read along, I realized this blogger also loves comfort foods with a healthy twist, but she also provides great commentary on the how to's of life, such as how to behave at the church pot luck. I fell in love with the idea of the 2-for-1 recipe of spaghetti bolognese and "sloppy giuseppes." You know I definitely bookmarked this page and this page for the most perfect idea for a themed dinner, baby shower or not! Antipasto salad, do-it-yourself meatball subs, homemade pizzas, and pepperoni dip??? Yes please. Sounds like my kind of party.

But it was this that got my heart pumping.

Yes, really.

A recipe for do-it-yourself Krystal burgers.

To give you some background, my grandmother was comfortable situated extremely close to a Krystal restaurant. Growing up, almost every visit to my grandmother's house included a trip to Krystal. It was the 80s. Supersize Me wouldn't come out for another 15 years. Sometimes it was a small indulgence of 2 burgers and other times I made a complete and utter gluttonistic disgrace of myself in front of my family as I devoured more than 8 Krystals in one sitting just because I said I could do it. While I have proven that I can eat more than 8 Krystals in one sitting, I'll hold on to that glory of yesteryear and stick to a healthy 2-3 from now on.

What is so special about the Krystal, really? Nothing about it smacks of gourmet eats. Its not even something fancy enough for any other chain to replicate. It is comprised of a mysteriously thin meat (beef?) patty, strange small onions, a solitary pickle, a gentle slather of American yellow mustard, and finally topped by what is almost always a very soggy bun (that I love to slurp on... seriously. its okay to gag here). I loved them so much, I used to beg my parents to buy the frozen ones from the grocery store. Seriously.

At Krystal, I don't care about the fries, the chili cheese pups, the mini corn dogs (although wow... I'd definitely eat a mini corn pup right about now), or even the spicy Krystal chick. I don't even want a Krystal with cheese. I just want a nice, yummy, soggy regular Krystal burger.

Side note: Two nights before my wedding day I have a picture of my now-husband smiling as he held a giant sackful of Krystal. If I wasn't willing to marry him before, this sealed the deal. Love by Krystal burger. Mmmm mmmm good.

So anyway. Back to this recipe.

I obviously live in Africa. As much as I think South Africans would enjoy Krystal burgers, the only American food chains in SA are KFC, McDonalds, and Subway (which is so terrible here I almost didn't list it... g-rody). Therefore, it is impossible for me to get a Krystal burger.

To add more background to this, I must also admit to being bitten by the mini-burger/slider phenomenon that swept through the US right as we were leaving. Our last meal in the ATL airport was at TGI Friday's - Will and I split an order of mini burgers before boarding the plane to Africa. While we were in London, we regularly consumed the mini burgers from Burger King (3 were jalapeno with spicy ketchup, the other 3 were BBQ with little onion rings - YUM).

Naturally, we figured we could make mini burgers ourselves. We got the meat, found little buns, made mini patties and set them on the grill, only to find they were impossible to flip and control. We wound up with a bunch of little hockey pucks. At a party. Lots of little buns went without little patties. It was a sad state of affairs and we wrote off mini burgers from there on.

So then I find this recipe. Krystal burger meets mini burger. Heck yes.

First of all, I was a huge skeptic of baking ground beef. Its just... weird to me. Bake meat? When I told Will what I was going to do, he just raised his eyebrows and blessedly said nothing and happily let me go on my way to try and make these mini yum-yums for the party last night.

Second of all, I had to find dehydrated onion and ground beef that had the right amount of fat yet didn't taste like Christmas (note: South Africans strangely add clove and coriander to almost all of their ground beef). This meant going to the butcher and asking for them to grind up sirloin steak, but add beef fat to it. Again, gag if you must.

So! I found the little buns again (mini garlic buns - yum!), find teeny tiny pickles and teeny tiny tomatoes and set in to make the burgers. Really, its easy. Generously coat the bottom of a pyrex dish with dehydrated onion and then press the meat on top and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Blot grease, add cheese, and bake until melty. Let cool, cut with a pizza cutter, and slide those puppies into the buns.

I set the pickles and tomatoes out to the side, along with ketchup and mustard, so people could make their own sammies. I also grilled up onions and mushrooms in Dale's steak seasoning - its my favorite burger topping.

I made Krystal burgers! It tasted EXACTLY like a Krystal (minus the garlic on the bun). This was one of the easiest appetizers I have ever made. Moreover, with the mini tomatoes and pickles, the presentation was super cute. They were gobbled up incredibly fast - everyone raved and raved over how great they were.

So! If you've got an event coming up and don't know what to take - try these! So simple, easy cleanup, voila!


Anonymous said...

FYI, I made the mini-burgers for my Oscar party, and they were a huge hit. Mine were a bit bigger, because I couldn't find the mini-buns I wanted, but they were delish! Thanks for sharing.

Will and Valerie said...

I've done variations twice: once I made them with leftover blue cheese onion sauce a la PW and then on St. Patty's I made them with guinness in the meat! Yummy both times!

What I love about them is they can totally be "dressed" up - but they're also good simple as can be!

Anonymous said...

I lived in the south for many years, and oh how I miss those Krystal burgers and a giant sweet tea ... Arizona has nothing remotely close ... thanks for sharing

Will and Valerie said...

Perfect sweet tea starts with Luzianne. Can you find it in Arizona? Its so easy to make. Get two of the big tea bags and steep in a regular tea pitcher filled about 1/3 of the way with boiling water. Allow to steep between 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the boiling water and stir. Fill the rest of the way with cold water and refrigerate or enjoy immediately over ice.

We always keep a pitcher in our fridge!!!