Now you Joe, and Joe-ing is half the battle

This ain’t no New Jersey sloppy joe.


This week we are getting messy with two different sloppy joe recipes. One is ground beef based and the second uses ground turkey. They’re both solid and the best part is that your ground meat choice is totally interchangeable if you want.

Robin’s turkey sloppy joe recipe is down below.

If you’ve never had a sloppy joe, it’s typically ground meat that is browned with chopped up veggies like onions or bell pepper and then cooked until everything comes together with a tomato based sauce and spices. Sloppy joes are typically served on a soft squishy white bread bun.

If you’re curious about where the sloppy joe comes from, chowhound.com has three theories. Theory one is that the origin point for sloppy joes could be Sloppy Joe’s bar in Havana, Cuba. Their second theory is that a bar called the Silver Slipper in Key West, Florida that was eventually renamed Sloppy Joe’s (based on Ernest Hemingway’s suggestion), could have been the root source of this particular sandwich. And the third suggestion is far away from Florida or Cuba, in Iowa, home of the loose meat sandwich (which is basically what a sloppy joe is, plus tomato sauces and spicing).

Most sloppy joe recipes I’ve seen (and the two you’ll see in this post) make a large number of sandwiches (8+). But the cool thing about sloppy joes is that they’re just as good the next day if they are properly warmed up. In some instances they might be better after the flavors have a chance to build and blend.

What most people think about when they think of sloppy joes. We’re making ours from scratch.

Warming up sloppy joes

It might be weird that we’re talking about heating up/warming up sloppy joes before we’re talking about making them, but I wanted to get this all out of the way. Unless you have a lot of potentially sloppy children, I think you’re going to have leftovers.

If you want to heat up a sloppy joe, there are two methods that I suggest:

  • Microwave: spoon out the amount that will fit in your bun/buns into a microwave safe bowl. For one sandwich I usually go 45 or 60 seconds. But your microwave will vary. You just want things to be hot (obviously).
  • Stove top: spoon out the amount that will fit into your buns into a small pot. For one sandwich you only need 3 or 4 minutes. You’ll need more time if you’re reheating a lot, but this is where you can just heat it up and taste or stick your finger in to judge the temperature.

I suggest the microwave technique for a single sandwich and if you’re warming up sloppy joe for multiple sandwiches, the stove top option might be easiest.

The soft squishy potato bun

These recently butter painted potato rolls were 85 grams each when shaped into buns (pre-baked weight).

All sloppy joes need a soft squishy bun and I’ve got a newish soft squishy bun recipe that I’ve been working on. If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m often using King Arthur Baking’s potato bun recipe. It’s a great recipe, but in the weights I’m using, it makes 9 or 10 buns and that’s just too many buns for most of my sandwich applications. The King Arthur recipe claims the recipe yield is 6 buns, but those would turn out to be huge buns. I weigh out around 85 or 90 grams and can easily get 9 buns from their recipe for that yield.

So I’ve scaled down the recipe a little and swapped the dry milk for regular milk (also works well with almond or alternate non-dairy milks). I’ve also tested this bun with potato flour or potato flakes and they seem to be somewhat interchangeable.

This bun recipe is great for sloppy joes, smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Bookmark it to make for your next backyard cookout.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Here’s a quick video tweet of another batch of my potato buns that I made for burgers recently.

The turkey joe

The setup for turkey recipe

My wife, Robin, has been tweaking this sloppy joe recipe for at least fifteen years. It’s a bit sweet and a tad spicy but it all comes together and is a tried and tested recipe we both enjoy frequently.

I’m aware that there are folks out there that for strange reasons adamantly despise anything to do with turkey (they tweet at me often) and if that’s you, I’m happy to say that both of the sloppy joe recipes I’m sharing in this blog post can be made with either ground turkey, ground beef or even your choice of a plant based alternative (read my thoughts on Impossible/Beyond meat alternatives).

Robin’s recipe uses red wine, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and jalapenos which are all common ingredients but alter slightly from typical sloppy joe recipes.

40 minutes
Robin's turkey sloppy joes

A sloppy joe recipe that is sweet and spicy just like Robin. She is going to be mad at me when she reads this but it is true.

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Turkey sloppy joe
Turkey sloppy joe with pickled red onions (recipe below).

And now lets try a another sloppy sandwich.

The beef joe

All we’re missing is the beef.

I said this at least twice already, but the ground meat option in both of these recipes can be swapped around. This recipe is just the way I typically make mine with ground beef.

My recipe is considerably different than Robin’s. It’s less sweet and I don’t really add much heat at all. This sloppy joe recipe is much more like an old school sloppy joe recipe (minus the beer). If you would like to add some spice or heat, I would suggest finely chopping a jalapeno and adding it when you add your diced red pepper.

Texture tip: If you prefer your sloppy joes to be less chunky, I like to use a potato masher and mash the ground beef while it’s cooking. This is a simple way to break up the meat into smaller pieces and provides a different texture to the final joe mixture.

40 minutes
Jonathan's sloppy joes

Looking for an old school sloppy joe recipe that will bring you back to the days of your youth when your back did not hurt? This one will do that and leave you with a big comforting hug.

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The beef sloppy joe setup with pickled red onions that give things a new layer of flavor. We also occasionally will put pickles on a sloppy joe as well. Pickled red onion recipe down below.
Beef with sharp cheddar melted on the bottom bun.

The rest of the sandwiches

Sometimes you add cheese.

If I’m planning to put cheese on a sloppy joe, I like to toast my buns under the broiler, add some sloppy joe mix and then put the cheese on top and slip it back under the broiler open faced for just a minute or so until things get melty.

Turkey sloppy joe and melted munster cheese on a toasted potato roll.

Add some pickled veggies

Sometimes you add pickled red onion or other pickles.

Pickled vegetables or in this case pickled red onions are an easy way to add zip and tang and crunch to any sandwich. We also have added dill pickles to sloppy joes, there are just no photos available to prove this fact. But it works and is a great way to change up your sloppy joe if you’re eating it a couple nights in a row.

5 minutes
Pickled red onions

Pickled red onions are a tangy and slightly sweet addition to a sandwich that will add texture and crunch. This is a super easy and quick recipe that will add a big flavor bang to your next sandwich.

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Beef sloppy joe and pickled red onions.

Biscuit Joes!

And sometimes you add biscuits.

I made these because I had leftover sloppy joe and someone told me September was National Biscuit Month. I try to follow the rules. Not sure if I ever would have thought about doing this, but it was actually really good. Sort of like small sloppy joe sliders but biscuit-y-er.

After enjoying these, I would also recommend just serving sloppy joe mixture spooned on top of open face, toasted biscuits, like biscuits and gravy.

Biscuit joes with melted extra sharp cheddar
Biscuit joes with melted swiss cheese.

Be more sloppy

Sloppy joes are great. They’re easy to make and fun to eat. If you’ve never made them before, give it a shot. Add something sloppy to your easy dinner rotation. If you know you have a busy week coming up, you can make a batch of these on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a couple of nights of very quick dinners during the week.

Check back next week when I make a sandwich named after a military man who died before knowing he’d been immortalized as a sandwich.


Yesterday’s steak sandwich

“I’ve never even heard of leftover steak. What’s that?”


Grilled steak and smashed potatoes with chimichurri. This was my birthday dinner from last year that we ate outside on our deck.

When it’s steak night at my house, I usually buy a large NY strip or a ribeye for myself and more often than not I eat about half of it and save the rest to eat as leftovers. We also grill flank steak for tacos from time to time and some of that will likewise end up in the fridge for the next day.

This week I’m writing about one of my favorite leftover sandwiches using steak that you likely grilled the night before.

If you’re the type of person that never has leftover steak, this sandwich works great with freshly grilled and sliced steak as well.

Read on to see how I turn yesterday’s steak into today’s sandwich masterpiece.

The bread

Almost any bread will do with a steak sandwich, but for this week’s sandwiches I chose to make ciabatta. I had recently re-watched Binging with Babish’s video about Harley Quinn’s movie, Birds of Prey and in that video he makes a breakfast sandwich on ciabatta. In the video he mentions he’s basing his ciabatta off King Arthur Baking’s ciabatta recipe. I tried them both and they are equally solid choices.

Babish (I know his name is Andrew, but our relationship isn’t there just yet) forms his ciabatta into six inch long rectangles and King Arthur’s recipe is shaped in squares. I think I like the square technique the best and that’s what I will choose when I make these rolls in the future.

The main difference between the Binging by Babish and the King Arthur Baking recipes is that Babish’s requires baking on a pizza stone. The King Arthur version just bakes on a sheet pan. Neither recipe is super hard, but I wouldn’t necessarily call these beginner bread recipes.

There’s a much longer rise time required for ciabatta, plus an overnight levain or pre-ferment which means you can’t bake them at the drop of a hat. For example: if I wanted to make my typical potato bun recipe it takes around 2 hours of dough rise time. On the other hand, this ciabatta recipe takes between 5 and 7 hours of time for the dough to rise. So you need to know the day before and be prepared for a lot of waiting for dough to rise if you want ciabatta.

A fresh ciabatta roll ready for sandwiching.

The steak

As I wrote earlier, I typically buy a New York strip for myself, sometimes splurging for a well marbled ribeye. I like my steak cooked somewhere around medium rare.

The biggest improvement in my meat cooking game occurred when I started putting an instant read thermometer in my pocket when I headed to the grill or stove. Sure, the pros can grill and tell doneness just by touching the steak, but those folks cook many steaks every single day. If I’m spending 20+ bucks on a steak I want to make sure I don’t over or under cook it, so I use a thermometer.

Here’s a 20 dollar (currently on sale for 15 USD) thermometer from Amazon that is very highly rated. I use a ThermoPop from ThermoWorks (35 USD) and it is very handy to have around when I’m questioning meat doneness.

If you are one of those people that refuse to buy a thermometer and you want me to tell you how long to cook something, I’ll say that I usually shoot for 4 to 5 minutes per side for a 1.25- or 1.5-inch-thick steak.

Here’s a chart where you can choose your desired doneness and remove your steak from the grill or pan at the “Remove from grill” temperature and that will allow your steak to slowly creep to the proper temperature through carryover cooking.


DonenessCenter colorRemove from grillCarryover cooking
RareRed120° F / 48° C125° F / 52° C
Medium RarePink130° F / 54° C135° F / 57° C
MediumSome pink140° F / 60° C145° F / 63° C
Medium WellTiny sliver of pink145° F / 63° C 150° F / 66° C
Well DoneNo pink160+° F / 71° C 165° F / 73° C
Grill or cook your steak to the “Remove from grill” temperature and then as the steak is resting it will continue to rise in temperature through carryover cooking.

If you are grilling and you’re using a thermometer and your temperature is still low after 4 or 5 minutes per side, that’s when you can close your grill lid and the grill becomes an oven. This helps to cook the interior of the meat just like it would if you put your steak into a hot oven.

As for seasoning, I’m a salt and pepper guy – heavy on the pepper, please. I season one side heavily with kosher salt and ground black pepper and place that side down on the grill or hot pan. Then I season the other side liberally as well. Sometimes you might think it’s too much salt or pepper but remember that you can’t season the middle part of your steak so you need to over season the outside.

The chimichurri

If you’re not familiar with it, chimichurri is an oil-based condiment that has its roots in Argentinian and Uruguayan cuisines; often served with steak or other grilled meats. I make chimichurri in a food processor, but you could use a blender or even a mortar and pestle. Just like pesto, chimichurri isn’t cooked at all and can be made in just a little more time than it takes you to collect all the ingredients from your pantry and fridge.

Chimichurri adds bright and tangy flavors to your steak. The bright, fresh, herby flavor combined with garlic and tangy vinegar leaves you with a very flavorful accompaniment to a savory piece of charred steak.

When you stop at the store to buy steaks, pick up Italian parsley, cilantro, and mint and garlic if you don’t already have some and you possibly already have the rest of what you need to make chimichurri.

Recipe Card
10 minutes
Chimichurri

Great on steak or any meat that is roasted or grilled. Robin says the mint makes this chimichurri feel fresh and spicy, punching up all the flavors.

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Another great use for the chimichurri is on side dishes like potatoes. I tweeted about this a little bit last month. Follow me on twitter for more health tips.

The roasted red peppers

Roasted red peppers add vibrant color and a pleasant sweetness to a sandwich. I added my recipe card for roasted red peppers below, but it’s almost too simple to be called a recipe. Basically, you need to roast your red peppers until they are cooked through and this process will allow you to remove the pepper skins, leaving you with a very tender, sweet and flavorful addition to your sandwich.

40 minutes
Roasted red peppers

This is a very easy recipe that lends a lot of flavor and color to a sandwich. You can store them in the fridge for up to a week but if you store your peppers in a container covered with oil they will last at least 2 weeks.

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Grilled ribeye, chimichurri and roasted red peppers combine to create great sandwich fillings.

Put all the pieces together

The sandwich cross section.

Assembling the sandwich at this stage is very simple. Depending on whether you want your sandwich warm or cold, will determine the speed at which you can start eating. If I want mine warm, I usually will broil the sliced bread with just the steak on top (and maybe some cheese). This warms your steak up but it also does cook it a little so the outside won’t be as pink as it initially was.

If you prefer your leftover steak sandwich to be straight out of the fridge, you just add steak, drizzle on chimichurri and sprinkle a few roasted red pepper pieces on top before sandwiching it all with the top of your roll.

And there you have yesterday’s steak sandwich.

Some yesterday’s steak sandwiches from past yesterdays

Like I said, this sandwich works with almost any type of bread. Just use what you have, and the flavors will do the rest of the work for you. Check out some steak and chimichurri sandwiches I have made in the past.

Sliced ribeye, chimichurri and roasted red peppers on a ciabatta roll.

Make chimichurri. Grill steak. Be happy. See you next week with a new sandwich!


It would be a misteak to skip the cheese.

Do you ever sit and wonder why they were named cheesesteaks instead of steakcheeses?


The website for the Philadelphia area’s official tourism agency, visitphilly.com, claims that Pat Olivieri invented what would become the Philly Cheesesteak in 1930. Olivieri founded Pat’s King of Steaks, which is across street from their cheesesteak rival Geno’s Steaks. Around the city you can find places like Jim’s Steaks, Philip’s Steaks, Max’s Steaks, Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop and other creatively named joints.

In my house we have cheesesteak nights a couple times a year. We mostly eat the traditional type of Philly cheesesteaks, but sometimes we switch things up.

I’m not claiming that what I’m making here is 100% authentic. I’m not from Philly. I never worked in a Philly cheesesteak restaurant, but I have watched a lot of cheesesteak youtube videos and stayed in a Holiday Inn Express once.

Follow along as I show you how I make my cheesesteak sandwiches.

The rolls

For this sort of sandwich I use my Sandwich sub roll. This isn’t especially traditional for a Philly style cheesesteak, but it works really well for a sub/hoagie/cheesesteak sort of sandwich. If you’re a beginner baker, you should be able to handle this recipe fairly well.

Typically I make this recipe with three 11 or 12 inch rolls, but this time I tried going to 14 just to see how that worked out and we really enjoyed the size and shape. They were a bit thinner than my usual sub roll, but that just means you can have a slightly smaller sandwich.

3 hours
Sub sandwich rolls

This is sort of a French style sandwich roll. Not too crusty but with a good chew for a sub sandwich or po-boy.

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Three 14 inch sub rolls.
The seam on the bottom.

The steak

Sliced ribeye for bulgogi. The butcher freezes the steaks and then is able to slice it super thin.

We have a local Korean market nearby and they prepare ribeye steak for people to use when cooking bulgogi (sometimes spelled bulgoki). They take a ribeye steak and freeze it and then put the frozen steak onto their deli slicer and slice full sized super thin slices that we can buy whenever we’re craving cheesesteaks.

If you do have a Korean market nearby, check them out. Hopefully they will have something like this available. Otherwise you’ll have to slice your own steak. I’ve done the slice yourself technique too.

You do this by buying a ribeye, freezing it for 3 hours or so and then using a serrated knife, make slices as thin as you can. If you’re making cheesesteaks in a pan and not a large griddle, you can use your knife while the meat is raw and chop through it a little. Usually the meat is chopped on the griddle, but if you’re using a smaller pan, pre-chopping the meat a little will help you with the process.

The cheese

You can use any cheese for a cheesesteak. The traditional choices are Cheez Whiz, provolone or white American cheese. But honestly, any sliced or spreadable cheese will work here. The sliced varieties need to be placed on the meat that is still cooking on the griddle/pan and the spreadable cheeses should be spread onto the cut side of your roll, ready to be filled with steak.

I’m guessing that people would want me to chose a favorite cheese here and I just can’t do it. Both Cheez Whiz and sliced provolone are great and it’s fun to switch things up from cheesesteak to cheesesteak.

The vegetables

I typically use onions and maybe mushrooms for my cheesesteaks. Some folks will put green or red bell peppers in there too. Regardless of which vegetables I am using, I cook them all the same way. Before you start the steak, you should thinly slice your veggies and cook them in a skillet or on your griddle to get them soft.

Note: if you’re ordering in Philly you don’t say, “please sir, may I have onions in my cheesesteak.” You just say “wit” or “wit-out” and that will let them know if you want onions or not.

Put the pieces together

Whiz wit with fries.

When we have cheesesteak night we typically cook our onions/vegetables in a pan before we cook the meat. We usually use two pans, but you can use the same pan/griddle if you want. The point is that you can cook your veggies first and they can be a bit lukewarm because you will mix them in with your steak when your steak is almost finished cooking. Steak and veggies do not cook at the same time so this is why we take this tactic.

When you cook your steak you should try to cook it in a cast iron pan or griddle. The reasoning for this is that you will want to chop up your meat a little if you can. If the only pan you have available is non-stick you will want to fully chop up your steak into smaller pieces prior to cooking.

When you feel that the meat is almost cooked through to your liking, line up the meat on your griddle or pan to be about the length of the bun that you want to use (check the gif below). Now is the time you want to add your vegetables and mix them in with your steak to make sure everything is warm and similar temperature.

At this point you have to make a decision based on the cheese you’re using. If you are using Cheez Whiz you would want to spread that into your sub/hoagie roll that you’ve cut 2/3rds of the way through. If you’re using provolone or white American cheese you would want to lay that on top of your meat and veggies that you have lined up to fit your bun length. Let the sliced cheese have a couple minutes to start the melting process.

Once you’ve spread your Cheez Whiz on your bread or let your sliced cheese melt you should open your sub roll up and lay it on top of the meat. I typically let the bun sit there for 30 seconds or so which helps to steam or moisten the bread a little.

Adding a whiz roll to the meat and veggies. This allows the bun to steam a little and the cheez to get a bit melty.

Once your bun has had a chance to warm up and everything has gotten all cheesy (or cheezy), take your spatula and slip it under everything and flip your sandwich off of the hot surface hopefully keeping all the meat and cheese inside the roll.

Some completed cheesesteaks

And here are a couple of the cheesesteaks I made.

A just filled steak with Whiz and wit. This is the cheesesteak from the gif above.
A provolone steak on a cheddar sub roll.

Pimento cheesesteak

If you’re a frequent visitor around here, you probably knew I was going to pimento cheese some steak. Well, guess what? I did.

This was a fantastic sandwich. You treat the pimento cheese like you treat the Cheez Whiz, which means you spread it on the bun while the steak is cooking. Then you open up the bun and place it on the steak on the griddle to steam the bread and heat up the pimento cheese.

This recipe also is using my Cheddar cheese sub roll which I have linked below.

3 hours
Cheddar sub sandwich rolls

Ever thought about putting more cheese in your sandwiches? Boy, have I got the sub recipe for you.

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Before the final proof
After the bake

Pimento cheesesteak recipe

Here’s the whole Pimento cheesesteak recipe. You can follow this recipe and substitute the pimento cheese for Cheez Whiz or even just sliced provolone. The concept of the recipe is all the same up until your choice of cheese.

Pimento cheesesteak sandwich view printable page for this recipe

Instead of Cheez Whiz we're trying something different. Spread some pimento cheese on your roll and let it get warmed up and melty with the hot steak for a great sandwich.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ribeye steak thinly sliced (if you can get your butcher to do this it's best)
  • 12 thinly sliced large yellow onion
  • 4 to 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper (optional)
  • pimento cheese spread (enough to spread on the inside of your two rolls)
  • 2 six to eight inch sub/hoagie rolls (or 1 large roll cut in two)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your thinly sliced onion, red bell pepper (if using) and mushrooms until they are tender. This usually takes me between 5 and 10 minutes depending on how soft/tender I want my veggies. 

Move the cooked veggies to a plate to be used later. 

If you were able to get thinly sliced ribeye from your butcher you can skip the next step because you're ready to cook. 

If you have a whole unsliced ribeye, you will need to freeze it for an hour or two so that you can slice it thinly. After your steak has been in the freezer for 1 to 3 hours, remove it and get a very sharp knife and slice very thin pieces. 

When all your meat is sliced you can start cooking.

In a large skillet or preferably cast iron griddle over medium high heat, add a little vegetable or olive oil to your pan. When the oil is shimmering add the steak and group it into "sandwiches." So if you're making two sandwiches, group the meat into two piles. Salt and pepper your piles of meat. 

Leave the meat where it is for 4 minutes. After that time has elapsed, start moving it around, flipping and even chopping the larger pieces with your spatula. The real Philly cheesesteak joints really chop at the meat, to get it into small bite size pieces. Be careful and do not ruin your pan with a metal spatula if your pan has a non-stick coating.

Continue flipping and moving the steak around until all of the meat seems to be cooked. 

Add your veggies to your steak. Divide the cooked veggies evenly between your meat piles. 

With your spatula or tongs incorporate the meat and veggies until they are combined and mixed through. 

Slice your sub/hoagie rolls 2/3rds of the way through and spread the pimento cheese on the inside of each one. 

line the meat and veggies on the skillet/griddle up so that they are about the length of each of your buns. Open each bun and lay it on top of the still cooking meat/veggies. 

Using a spatula, get under the meat and with your other hand grab the bun and flip the sandwich out of the pan, attempting to keep all of the meat and veggies in the sandwich. Do this for your other sandwiches as well. 

Enjoy your pimento cheesesteak! 

Notes:

 You can use this recipe with Cheez Whiz or any other cheese spread as well, just spread the cheese spread inside the bun as the meat is almost cooked through. 

If you want to use sliced cheese, just lay the slices of cheese on top of the meat when it's cooked through and give it another minute or two for the cheese to start melting. 

If you’re still reading I bet you want a cheesesteak right now. Go get one and come back next week when I’ll most likely be writing about another type of cheese.


Carolina on my dog

“I always look for a hot dog wherever I go.” – Martha Stewart


Controversial statement incoming.

I’m one of those people who consider hot dogs to be sandwiches.

That sound you just heard was my friend, JP, reading the last sentence and closing down her internet browser in disgust.


Sorry JP! All the rest of you, please keep reading:


One of my favorite regional hot dog styles is the one from North Carolina where I grew up. The Carolina dog is made up of chili, coleslaw, chopped onions and sometimes mustard (it’s better with mustard). This regional hot dog style is basically considered standard “all the way” in parts of North and South Carolina. If you’ve never had one of these, the chili and the slaw might be different from versions you’ve seen or experienced. We’ll discuss those in full with my recipes below.

The origin of the Carolina Dog is pretty much up in the air. Wikipedia claims that a place in Wilmington NC, called Merritt’s Burger House, has been serving this style since 1958, but there’s nothing else online to back that up. Even the linked article doesn’t really say they’ve been serving this style of burger or hot dog since that time. Melvin’s in Elizabethtown NC, claims that they have been making a burger with chili and slaw for 80 years, but I’ve found nothing really saying when or where the Carolina style hot dog started. We’re going to have to hire some food detectives to figure this out. I’m not the guy to do it.

If you’ve never cooked a hot dog before, Nathan’s Famous has a pretty good guide for cooking hot dogs. I cook my hot dogs on a grill outside or inside on a grill pan or skillet. Nathan’s Famous does tell you that it’s ok to microwave a dog, but not ok to boil one. As a kid I remember a lot of microwaving of hot dogs for quick lunches that didn’t require turning on the stove or oven. I just remember putting a hot dog in a bun and wrapping it in a paper towel. Forty five seconds later I was enjoying a hot lunch (with just ketchup probably).

Here are the ingredients I like to prepare for my favorite hot dogs.

Hot dog potato rolls

Consistent readers already know I’ve talked about the King Arthur’s Potato Bun recipe a few times recently. I whipped up the same recipe again this week, but I shaped them into torpedoes or hot dog shapes.

Here’s a video I made of how I shape dough into that shape. The video is for a longer roll than a hot dog roll, but it’s the same technique. The recipe in the video is for rolls that are similar to my sub sandwich rolls.

I like to make my buns fit my hot dogs. I don’t want any extra bites of just bun if I can help it, so I usually weigh my dough into 80 gram (or even 75 gram) portions. Then I shape that portion into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes (while I shape the rest). Then I flip the ball over, exposing the bottom tucked side to the top and leaving the smooth top on the surface of the counter. This means the smooth part will end up on top when you’re done.

Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about the length of your hot dog. I make my dough rectangle about a quarter inch thick. Then I roll from the side closest to me away from me to make a log.

Then the most important part is getting the seam sealed tightly by pinching your fingers. Once the seam is very tightly pinched, I flip the dough log so that the seam is on the bottom touching the counter and I roll the log back and forth on top of the seam to flatten out the places where I pinched the dough. Then you place the dough log seam side down on your pan and press it down a little to keep if from being a perfectly round cylinder.

You want to get your dough logs about an inch or an inch and a half apart on your sheet pan. They don’t have to touch, but if you are looking for New England style split top rolls, put them a little bit closer together (like an inch). They will rise to about double after shaping and then rise again in the oven.

Some finished hot dog buns.

Hot dog chili

This is not typical chili. There are no beans, but it’s also not chunky with hunks of meat like Texas chili. Hot dog chili is made from ground beef that’s mashed or chopped and not full of beans or onions. In some recipes hot dog chili is sent through a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a potato masher.

Recipe Card
Hot dog chili

No beans in this chili, but it's perfect for topping a hot dog or burger. This type of chili is also superb for chili cheese fries.

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Hot dog slaw

This is sweeter than the slaw I usually make, but it’s similar to what you’ll find in a lot of Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints or hot dog stands. I enjoy it on occasion and it works really well with the chili, but feel free to omit the sugar entirely if you’re averse to a sweet slaw.

Recipe Card
15 minutes
Hot dog slaw

This is a fairly sweet slaw, but that's what is traditional in a Carolina Dog. You could easily just cut the sugar in half or omit it all together if you want a simple slaw that isn't very sweet.

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The Carolina dog

Let’s put all the pieces together.

Carolina dogs are typically bright red hot dogs with hot dog chili, a sweet slaw and chopped onions. They also often will have mustard added as a fourth item. The wikipedia page for “Hot dog variations” claims that people have been making Carolina style hot dogs since at least 1958.

When you study other hot dog variations on that page, you’ll learn that West Virginia is very very similar to a Carolina dog. Georgia also often has a dog with chili and mustard or sometimes only slaw. There are other regional hot dogs with chili like the Pink’s Chili Dog from Los Angeles and then you have a Coney dog from Michigan but Coney chili traditionally is made from ground up beef heart instead of regular ground beef.

I like to build my Carolina dogs with chili on the bottom, then slaw and then plain yellow mustard on top. About half of the time I leave out the raw chopped onions. I don’t think raw chopped onions add that much, but feel free to add them to yours.

Here are some of my finished Carolina dogs.

I ate a few hot dogs this week. Here are a few of them.

Split top potato bun stuffed with hot dog, chili, slaw and mustard.

The Glenn and the messiness problems

The Glenn

A friend named Glenn has commented on my hot dog photo tweets before and always recommends to put the mustard underneath the slaw and chili and that will help the hot dog not be so messy to eat. I tried it and named this version: The Glenn.

I do think he’s right, but the hot dog is way prettier with mustard on top. If you want to avoid messiness, build your dog like Glenn does.

Now let’s talk about the next logical step with these ingredients.

Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger

The Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger was first introduced at a Wendy’s in Rockingham, North Carolina. Wendy’s did not invent this style of cheeseburger, but they did a lot to add recognition outside of the small North/South Carolina burger joints and hot dog stands. Here’s a video of ol’ Dave Thomas being introduced to the Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger from back in 1995.

Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I learned early on that “all the way” for a burger meant chili, slaw, chopped onion and mustard. On family trips to White Lake, NC we’d visit a place called Melvins’ in Elizabethtown. Melvin’s is amazing. The line could be fifty people long and it just flies in minutes. Because they’re so busy and they’re cooking burgers constantly they claim that it takes just 10 seconds to get a burger made to order. They open up at 7:30 am and start selling burgers. No breakfast, just burgers. And the line starts that early too, proving that burgers are a breakfast food.

Since I had the slaw and chili and a leftover bun from Breaded Pork Tenderloin week, I decided to recreate the “all the way” burger I grew up with. I even went so far as to make my burger patty square in honor of Dave Thomas.

My own Carolina Classic burger with a square patty. Quarter pound burger with cheese, chili, slaw, chopped onions and mustard on a toasted bun.

Everything’s better with some pimento cheese

Couldn’t let this opportunity of hot dog buns and chili go to waste without using a little pimento cheese. Make some chili and slaw (and even pimento cheese) to have available for hot dog and cheeseburger toppings at your next backyard cookout! Fourth of July is coming up and so is the rest of your life! Put these easy recipes on your list of backyard necessities for burgers and hot dogs of all seasons.

Chili and pimento cheese dog.

Burgers three ways

I made some burgers and now you get to read about them (and look at them).


Two or three times a year I plan to delve a bit deeper and write about the toppings of the burgers I make at home. This week I made the following burgers:

All three of these burgers are simply 80/20 ground chuck with salt and pepper. I don’t like to mess around too much with spices in my burgers, but you obviously can if you want. That’s up to you. You are, after all, the Tina Turner of your own Hamburger.

Potato Buns

First we need to address the buns. The King Arthur Baking Hamburger Potato Buns recipe is one of my go-to bun recipes. You can use this for longer sub-like rolls or even weigh out pretty small sizes for sliders or hot dog buns. This recipe does require you to have potato flour and special dry milk in your pantry, but I make this bun style often enough to keep those items on hand. It also helps that both of these ingredients have a fairly long shelf life – even longer if you keep them in the fridge. The point of the potato flour is that it absorbs moisture in the dough and it leaves you with a more moist hamburger bun that will stay fresh longer.

Since I was making hamburger buns, I decided to add some toppings to some of the buns. That’s a super easy way to change up your hamburger rolls or hot dog buns. Just prior to baking, simply brush each bun with an egg wash (one whole beaten egg and a tablespoon of water) and apply your bun toppings liberally. I like to use Everything Bagel Seasoning (Amazon affiliate link), but you can use poppy seeds, sesame seeds or even something like dried onion flakes.

Sliced hamburger potato roll.

All American burger

This was a diner-style griddle burger, not a smash burger. I weighed out my ground beef into two 3 ounce portions and formed it into two patties. I typically use parchment paper and use my hands to form a round patty that is wider than my bun. In this case I flattened them into two fairly thin patties. You want to make your patty wider than your bun because the meat will shrink as it cooks. I like to form patties on a scrap of parchment paper because you can use that to flip them onto your hot griddle or skillet.

The ingredients for my All American burger are: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, … tomato … on a sesame seed bun. The pickles I used were my MSG pickle recipe and the sauce I used here is a super easy sauce recipe I use for burgers and other sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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You can add finely diced pickles or onions to this sauce as well. And those seeking a little heat could opt for sriracha or another hot sauce to liven things up.

The All American burger. Two formed beef patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Blue cheese and bacon jam

Blue cheese and sweet and savory bacon jam is a great combination of big flavors. I’ve shared my bacon jam recipe before and it is fantastic paired with blue cheese. For this burger I went with a hefty scoop of bacon jam and a wide but thin slice of blue cheese on an everything bagel bun.

You could go with blue cheese crumbles as well, but in my experience those end up falling off the burger and make a bit of a mess. Thinly slicing from a wedge of blue cheese helps your cheese stay in the mix.

Slice of blue cheese, bacon jam on a everything bagel seasoned bun.

Onion all the way

My onion all the way burger is very similar to a smash burger. I wrote about smash burgers a few months ago and most of those tips and tools apply here.

This burger is a lot like an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The burger historian himself, George Motz, can explain what that is better than I can. Here’s a video with Motz for Martin’s potato roll’s youtube channel where he explains and makes an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The simple explanation (if you don’t want to watch the video) is that this is a burger that is smashed and griddled along side sliced up onions.

The main difference in my burger is that I smashed the burger balls into the hot surface with thinly sliced onions. Motz’s recipe tells you to smash the onions into the burger balls forming patties with onions on the top side. Then when you flip, you end up cooking the onions while cooking the second side of the patty. I like to put the onions down first and smash my patties into the already cooking onions. It works great either way though, so experiment yourself and see what you think.

The slide show below shows the simple steps I follow to smash this onion burger.

Why make a burger with one type of onions when you can make a burger with two types of onions? Here’s my onion ring recipe.

Fried onion rings

Crispy and light onion rings are perfect as a side dish or placed inside a sandwich.

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Salt or season your fried onion rings right as they come out of the frying oil.

Here’s my finished Onion All The Way burger. I also used special sauce on this one as well.

Onion all the way burger. Two onion smashed patties, American cheese, two onion rings, special sauce on a plain potato roll.

And that’s it. Three burgers I made that hopefully will inspire you to make some of your own.

Don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up. If you have the chance to see your Dad, offer to make him a burger. Pretty sure that Dads like burgers. If he also loves to cook burgers, I have several burger cooking tools listed in my smash burger post. Check those out. Next week I’ll be writing about another sandwich. I think this one may contain pork. Stay tuned!


Meatloaf smeatloaf double beatloaf

Randy from A Christmas Story really had a beef with meatloaf.


A lot of folks, like Randy, do not like meatloaf. Maybe that’s because they have not had the right opportunities to enjoy a good one? I remember enjoying my Mom’s meatloaf fairly often as a kid, usually with potatoes of some preparation and corn or some sort of green vegetable that she had lovingly prepared.

Back then, I never really turned meatloaf into leftover sandwiches, but I’ve come to learn that I enjoy a meatloaf sandwich almost as much as the sliced-on-the-side-of-potatoes version. Luckily a typical meatloaf is large enough to turn into multiple servings so you can enjoy it both ways. Meatloaf also reheats very well. It can be reheated either in the microwave, toaster oven or the best option would be in a skillet to crisp up both sides.

This week I made my favorite meatloaf recipe and I turned it into several sandwiches. You can read along to see what steps I took and what recipes I used.

Dutch crunch potato buns

Is it a tiger or a giraffe?

With a crunchy, crackly, sweet exterior and a soft pillowy interior these are awesome rolls for a meatloaf sandwich. Toasted or untoasted they work well. Dutch crunch, also known as tiger bread (or sometimes giraffe bread) is slathered with rice flour, sugar, yeast and oil prior to baking and that mixture bakes into a craggly crunchy surface on the exterior of the roll.

Dutch crunch has become very popular as a sandwich bread in the Northern California area over the past few years. Theirs seems to be a much more firm doughy bread, whereas mine is based on a soft potato dough, so the interior of my buns are very soft. As usual, I’m not doing something that’s totally traditional here, but I feel that since sliced meatloaf is fairly soft on the sliced sides, you don’t really want a hard bread to serve as the boundaries of your sandwich.

Below is the recipe I have worked on for a few weeks. The first time I tried it I ended up applying too much glaze and it did not crack properly. But it still was crunchy and left you with a sweet crust. The glaze is much like the texture of glue and you only want a thin, even layer to achieve the proper tiger/giraffe pattern. Give the recipe a try, it’s a good one for all sorts of sandwiches.

Dutch crunch potato buns

Great crunch and a soft interior on rolls with a sweet and flavorful crust make for very good sandwiching. This recipe requires three ingredients that you might not have, but it's well worth the investment.

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The meatloaf

I based this recipe very loosely off of my Mom’s meatloaf. She is not a big fan of spicy food, so she never used sriracha in hers. I’m not even sure if we could get sriracha where I lived when I was growing up. Mom also baked her meatloaf in a loaf pan, whereas my recipe is baked freeform on a sheet pan. This allows me the ability to baste the meatloaf with my sriracha ketchup glaze which I do in fifteen minute intervals during the bake.

Sriracha glazed meatloaf

An addictively spicy glaze on this meatloaf will leave you craving more. Add a slice between buns or slices of bread and you've got yourself a winner.

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The other stuff

Special sauce

This is one of the sauces I make for my smash burgers if I’m not using mayonnaise. I uploaded this recipe without finely diced pickles in the sauce, but that’s definitely an alternate version of the sauce that I really enjoy. The addition of the pickle juice means you don’t need the pickles, but it their addition gives it a bit of texture and visual appeal. Sometimes I’ll grate some yellow onion into this sauce too. But the simple version is the one I was using this week on my meatloaf sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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Shallots

Adding an extra crunchy element to any sandwich is a good call in my book. I fried up some thinly sliced shallots for a few of my meatloaf sandwiches this week and here’s the process I used. It’s barely a recipe with only two ingredients, but the temperatures of the frying oil and times are fairly important. Shallots also go from very blonde in color to super dark within the span of less than a minute, so you have to keep your wits about you when frying.

Crispy fried shallots

These are supposed to be a crispy topper for a sandwich, but they quickly evolve into a pre-dinner snack. Be careful.

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Two examples of my meatloaf sandwiches

Sriracha glazed meatloaf on a Dutch crunch roll with special sauce and cheddar.
Fried shallots and pickles on a sriracha glazed meatloaf with white cheddar and special sauce.

And an extra version

meatloaf sandwich with cheddar on sliced toasted bread
I made this one a few weeks ago with the same sriracha glazed meatloaf recipe. Bread was a sliced hearth bread and cheddar toasted in a pan with butter.

Bake more meatloaf! Sandwich more meatloaf!


I ordered tortas and they brought me a turtle

I was gonna make a pun about the tortoise and the hare, but I thought it might be a little too racy for you.


I want to start off first by being clear and saying that this isn’t an authentic torta like you might find in Mexico. This isn’t even necessarily an authentic torta that I might find in a Mexican focused restaurant where I live in Chicago. These are sandwiches that I enjoy that’s inspired by these things.

Black bean spread, mashed avocado and Mexican focused spice rubbed steak are at the core of the sandwiches I’ve made and eaten this past week. My local market had super thin cut Delmonico steaks on special and that sent me on my way for some really tasty sandwiches. Keep reading and I’ll tell and show you how I put them together.

The telera rolls

First we need good bread. This is a great recipe for telera style rolls over at King Arthur Baking. I have used both lard and shortening in this recipe and to me they seem fairly interchangeable. The amount of lard/shortning/fat that is required to make 10 telera rolls seems to be small enough that you really don’t notice the difference. This week was the lard version.

This recipe instructs you to portion out 10 rolls which in my experience sets you up for smaller sized telera rolls and I’m happy about that. I like to stack my sandwiches with a lot of flavor and ingredients, but I don’t really want HUGE sandwiches (build up not out). These were weighed out to right around 90 grams each and they turned out around the size of a hamburger roll. I think if I were trying to be more authentic with these, I would shoot for 110 or 120 grams and I would shape them much more like a football than what I ended up with. But for me at home, they were great. They have great texture and they hold up to a somewhat messy sandwich.

Fresh telera style rolls.
The rolls closest to you were scored with a metal straw and the ones in the back were cut with a sharp knife before baking. Click to see larger.

The technique for getting the “stripes” in the rolls isn’t quite right on King Arthur Baking’s site. They tell you to slash with a knife right before baking, but that leads to a roll that doesn’t quite look like the telera rolls I usually see. Deep in the comments of the recipe you’ll find people talking about using metal straws. They mention checking YouTube for the proper technique and that’s where I found this really good instructional video.

Don’t get me wrong, if you follow King Arthur Baking’s technique exactly, you’ll still end up with pretty rolls, they just won’t look like the telera rolls that I’m familiar with at my local hispanic focused market or pandareria.

I took a photo of a previous batch that I did half scored with a metal straw prior to final rise and half with the King Arthur knife technique after final rise (pre-bake) and you can judge for yourself. Watch that video above if you want the most authentic shaping and scoring technique.

Black bean spread

One of the best parts about the sandwiches I made this week is the black bean spread that I put on the bottom roll. The onion, garlic and bacon fat all come together to make a very savory accompaniment to the steak. These black beans are also very very good as an alternative to salsa or guacamole with tortilla chips or crackers. Someone should start a movement to get more beans on sandwiches and this is a good recipe to start with.

20 minutes
Black bean spread

Fantastic with chips or spread on a sandwich, this black bean spread is something I sometimes make for taco night to stand in for refried beans as well. Spread on the bottom of your torta to get some real flavor started.

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Meat and spices

I marinated my very thin steaks with a bit of canola oil and fresh lime juice and my suburban taco seasoning. This seasoning is meant to be mixed with cooked ground meat to make tacos, but it’s also great sprinkled on french fries or rubbing on meat to add salt and tex-mex type seasoning.

For steaks, you could use all sorts of cuts. I picked up some really thin cut delmonico steaks that my local grocery had available. But you could use strip steak, or even something like flank steak that you thinly slice after cooking.

Make up a double or triple batch of this seasoning, you will definitely get a lot of use out of it in tacos even if you don’t try this steak torta.

5 minutes
Suburban taco seasoning

Much like the taco seasoning you buy in packets at the store, this is a pantry staple and it adds a little bit of spice and flavor to tacos or meat for tortas.

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The top three

I ate six different telera and steak sandwiches this week and here are the three best ones. Traditional tortas don’t typically have lettuce, but I bought some and I really enjoy the crunchy texture it adds.


Torta one

This was the baseline basic version with the ingredients that I had. Black bean spread on the bottom, steak, salted tomato, lettuce, queso fresco and mashed avocado.

My baseline steak torta.

Torta two

This one is the same as the first, but I opted to leave out the tomato. It’s not the right season for it anyway. I opted for extra black bean spread on this guy and it turned out that that was a very good choice. I find that mashed avocado isn’t quite as slippery in a sandwich as sliced avocado. So mash that stuff up so you won’t have slippage issues.

Heavy on the black bean spread, hold the tomatoes. Black bean spread, seasoned thinly sliced steak, lettuce, queso fresca and mashed avocado.

Torta three

Same as the first, minus tomatoes and I added pickled jalapenos and pickled radishes. The addition of pickled veggies adds a lot with texture and flavor. This mustard pickled radish recipe is a good one and they are great for snacks too. Adds zip, zing and crunch to your sandwich. You’ll find the radish recipe linked below this torta photo.

No tomato but added pickled radishes and jalapenos
Mustard pickled radishes

Pickled radishes are great as a snack and they add crunch and flavor to a sandwich. Pull them out of the fridge and enjoy with cheese and crackers if you want to be fancy.

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Extra credit: the build process

Here’s a build process gif of the first torta that I wrote about. Don’t stare at it too long or you’ll get really hungry!

Building one of my steak tortas.

I love it when telera roll week swings around each year. Maybe I’ll make it a bi-annual event going forward. I’ll bring you along next time with a different protein or style of torta inspired sandwich.


Bbq sauce braised short rib sandwich

I made the McShortRib

Two different versions of short rib sandwiches this week. Maybe next week I’ll tackle long ribs?


I cooked up 4 pounds of short ribs this week and made a couple different versions of sandwiches. First I’m going to talk about the McShortRib sandwich that I made which is a riff on McDonald’s McRib. Then after the bbq braised rundown, I’m also going to talk briefly about a second beer braised short rib recipe that I added to multiple grilled cheese sandwiches that I also ate this week.

McShortRib

The McRib is not always available at McDonalds. They seem to release it for a few weeks every two or three years and because of that rare random release schedule it has become a fan favorite. I personally haven’t had a McRib this century because of my fairly infrequent trips to the restaurant and its sporadic appearance on the menu but I do remember liking the combination of the pickles and onions with barbecue sauce.

The bun

For the bun we needed a white bread roll about 6 inches long. I am a big fan of the King Arthur potato bun for burgers, so I started that dough and after the first rise, I shaped it in long roll form (100 gram portions). The McRib has corn meal on top, so I dusted mine fairly liberally when forming and before baking.

BBQ sauce braised short ribs

For the meat portion of this sandwich, I braised some short ribs in a homemade bbq sauce. McDonald’s McRib is ground pork weirdly formed to look like there are bones in the patty. The short ribs I used are beef, so this isn’t really a copy cat recipe, it’s more of a sandwich inspired by another.

I portioned my bbq braised short ribs in two bone hunks.

The sauce this recipe makes isn’t the vinegar based sauce from my home state of North Carolina, this is more akin to a Kansas based sauce; sort of like what you might find in a bottle at the store. You could definitely spice things up here with a bit of cayenne pepper in the sauce, but since I was attempting to emulate McDonald’s McRib, I went with a sweet sauce base.

Once the meat was cooked, I skimmed off as much fat from the top of the sauce and discarded it. After that I was able to pull large pieces of short rib for arranging in the sandwich. This isn’t just one big piece like the actual McRib. I think to do that you’d have to grind meat for patty formation; short ribs just aren’t shaped in a way to find a roughly three by six inch shape.

Just below I have linked the full recipe for my bbq sauce braised short ribs. They would be fantastic on top of polenta, grits or even mixed into mac and cheese, but pulled or sliced off the bone they are a very solid addition to a sandwich. You can also add all the ingredients in the sauce in a pot and bring it to boiling and simmer for 10 minutes or so to just have a sweet homemade bbq sauce.

BBQ sauce braised short ribs

A sweet sticky sauce braises short ribs until they are tender. Great on a bun and can easily be served as the main dish at your dinner table.

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Pickles

This week I also made these fantastic pickles. An online acquaintance shared this tweet from Joshua Weissman about MSG pickles. I tried the recipe a day or so after seeing it and found that I wanted a bit more sweetness and the pickles could definitely use some heat.

If you’re worried about the use of MSG, you can leave it out but it really brings a lot to the recipe. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote a very thorough run down on what MSG actually is and the reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about consuming it. It seems that a very small percentage of people can have some sort of sensitivity to MSG but otherwise it’s not as scary as we were lead to believe in the 1970s and 80s.

Note: these pickles will pick up more spice as they age, so when you taste them the second day they will not be as spicy as they will be on the third or fourth day. If you really are looking for something super spicy I suggest you double the red pepper flakes.

25 minutes
Spicy MSG pickles

Spicy and dilly and savory pickles are great as a snack or in a sandwich. A great addition to any refrigerator. I based this recipe off of this tweet from Joshua Weissman and added extra spice.

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The final thing I did was slice up some yellow onion. I bet McDonald’s uses white onion, but I prefer the sweeter yellow option. Add the bread, meat, pickles and onions and I created a very tasty sandwich. See if you can figure out which one is mine and which is McDonald’s in the photo below? You get three chances and the first two don’t count.

Compare: McDonald’s McRib on the left and my McShortRib on the right.

Please don’t lick the screen. There’s a pandemic.


Short rib grilled cheeses (or short rib melts)

I also whipped up this beer braised short rib recipe. If you don’t want to use beer, you could use wine or just add more of the beef broth.

Beer braised short ribs

Juicy tender short rib meat is perfect for a grilled cheese or piled up on a bun with some crunchy slaw.

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The bread recipe I made for my caesar sandwiches made two loaves so I froze the second for a few days and thawed it out after I cooked beer braised short ribs. If you didn’t already know, bread freezes and thaws very well. If you can’t eat a whole loaf, you should freeze some and save it for later.

Fontina is a great melting cheese and the cheddar/gruyere added extra flavor.

A smear of butter on the outside is how I like to make my grilled cheese/melt sandwiches. I have tried the mayo on the outside trick, but if your butter is room temperature it should spread and cover the surface just as well as mayo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, it’s basically just a tip that mayo browns as well as butter on a griddle. If your butter is super firm and hard to spread because it’s straight from the fridge, you might find that spreading a thin layer of mayo on the outside of your sandwich will help you achieve really consistent browning.

I used shredded fontina and gruyere and a few chunks of short rib. On one sandwich I added pickled red onions and the other was just the meat and cheese.

Short rib melt
Just the meat and cheese please.
Added a little picked red onion for texture and zing.

And there you it. Two versions of short ribs and two versions of sandwiches that you can try. Short ribs are super easy to make, they just take a bit of time and planning to cook. But your kitchen will smell fantastic for a whole time and get you excited about the meal you’re about to consume. Go forth and short rib sandwich!


Hungry-Man Salisbury Steak

Are you a Hungry Man?

A hungry man made The Hungry Man sandwich. Hard to believe but it’s true.


I remember eating many meals from the freezer section during my time in college and a popular Hungry-Man selection was a go-to for me. At that time in my life, Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans was a quick and consistent option from the frozen food aisle.

If you’re not familiar with a recipe for Salisbury Steak or if no one makes it on the island where you live, it was created at some point in the late 1800’s and got its name from Dr. James Salisbury. In the current era, Salisbury Steak is simply seasoned ground beef sautéed until brown on both sides, served with a thickened savory mushroom gravy. Conagra, the company that makes Hungry-Man frozen specialties, thinks that the beef needs grill marks on it, so they bought a machine that sears those on with a branding iron during processing (I’m guessing).

Not sure when I got the idea to turn Salisbury steak into a sandwich, but once I started thinking about it I was surprised it wasn’t more popular. Meat and gravy on a sandwich? Sign me up!

I’ve done a little research (googling) and I have seen that there are quite a few websites with recipes for a Salisbury steak sandwich, but I don’t think I’ve seen it on a menu or heard about it being served in a restaurant. I did learn that there have been more than nine thousand two hundred minutes of Diners Drive-ins and Dives shown on Food Network, and no one has ever made a Salisbury steak sandwich on that show!

That’s an atrocity. So I made one.

Salisbury Steak Sandwich

Not just a tv dinner anymore! Salisbury steak and mushroom gravy are fantastic on a sandwich. Add a slice of cheese if you want to treat yo self!

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After I turned it into a pretty good sandwich, I knew I had to take it a step further and make the Hungry-Man version (minus the brownie, because this is a kid friendly website). But first, I wanted to relive the experience of Hungry-Man’s Salisbury Steak.

Let’s try:

The Brownie spread into the mashed potatoes and green beans. I still tried them…

I bought a blue box with 16 ounces of frozen stuff in it for less than four bucks. Around 9 am Sunday morning I decided was a perfect time to steam some meat and veggies in the microwave. The microwave instructions are far more prominent on the back of the box so I’m guessing that’s what is used most often.

In what seemed to be a factory mishap, the brownie batter in the package I bought had already spread into the green beans and mashed potatoes before I put it into the microwave. This caused a small problem, but nothing had spread into the Salisbury Steak sauce or meat which is what I was mostly interested in anyway.

Eight and a half minutes later, the patties seem extremely dense like they were packed super tight leaving them with a somewhat rubbery texture. The sauce is thin but still really salty and savory. Of the other side dishes/brownie, they’re fine (albeit a bit chocolaty) and nothing to write home about. The brownie flavor is rich, but again it was microwaved so it’s spongy and the texture isn’t great.

I didn’t learn much about Salisbury Steak from reliving this experience. The convenience factor is clearly why I and many other people stocked these in their freezers. Microwaving it will have dinner on your table in 8.5 minutes. If you used the oven directions instead of microwave, this would take you almost an hour including oven preheating time. It didn’t even take me an hour to make my Salisbury Steak recipe from scratch.

Now back to the project at hand:

I had what I considered to be a good Salisbury Steak sandwich recipe but I needed a way to introduce the mashed potatoes and the green beans. After the 2020 Pandemic Christmas when we all had extra leftovers, I tried frying mashed potatoes and putting that into a sandwich. It worked ok, but at that time I didn’t use enough bread crumbs to keep it crispy.

Here’s the Fried Mashed Potato recipe that I’ve refined slightly:

Fried Mashed Potato Patty

A soft on the inside but crispy on the outside potato patty is a great addition to a savory sandwich. Remember this recipe whenever you have leftover mashed potatoes

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I didn’t make a formal recipe for the green bean puree because what I made was literally one ingredient. I took a can of roasted garlic french cut green beans and I hit it with my immersion blender (after opening the can and dumping it into a bowl of course). After talking to my Mom about this crazy idea she was a little put off by the green bean puree (try not to think about baby food) but she did have the great suggestion to add a sprinkling of “those crispy fried onions” and I did.

Below is the finished sandwich: The Hungry Man. The roll is my potato roll recipe that I’m still testing and will share soon. I toasted the roll, added a tiny bit of green bean puree to the bottom roll, stacked the crispy mashed potato then a Salisbury Steak and mushroom gravy and topped it all with a little bit more green bean puree. Over all it was a pretty flavorful sandwich. The crunch of the fried mashed potato patty was pleasant and believe it or not, the green bean puree added a nice flavor. The whole combination was very savory and it was more than I could eat but I did my best.

The Hungry Man Sandwich
The finished piece of sandwich art. I present The Hungry Man.

Would I make The Hungry Man sandwich again? Probably not.

Will I make a Salisbury Steak sandwich again? Definitely yes.


crispy smashburger

Smashing good burgers

Want to impress your friends and family? Learn how to make a smash burger!


A good smash burger gets texture and flavor from the quick searing process combined with the large amounts of surface area contact between the patty and the hot cooking surface. The goal of the “smashing” procedure is to ensure as much meat as possible touches the hot metal causing browning and forming a crust on the meat.

Many of us learned early on that you aren’t supposed to press on your meat while it’s cooking because that would cause it to lose moisture and become dry. This is true. Squishing meat while it is cooking will definitely cause you to lose juice. You can watch this happen if you try it (don’t do it). BUT the smash burger technique requires smashing BEFORE the meat starts cooking. You are simply smashing a ball of meat to your desired thickness (usually pretty thin) and then the meat starts cooking. There’s no moisture loss through this process. Once your first smash is done, you do not want to smash the patty again. Not even after you flip. Only smash once at the very beginning.

For me, this is the best style of burger to cook at home. It’s fast and the texture is perfect. If you make it a double patty smash burger with cheese (which I usually do), the slice of American cheese melts between the patties keeping things moist. You can use other types of cheese but American works the best (make sure you’re buying “American Cheese” and not “American Cheese Product”). You also don’t need fancy meat. I find 80/20 ground chuck works great.

There are a few tools that I enjoy using when smashing patties. Here are four items I own that are also all useful in other kitchen applications (all links are affiliate links for Amazon products).

  • If you want to be more precise you’ll need a kitchen scale that works with ounces and grams.
  • I use a finishing trowel for smashing patties. You can get a lot of downward pressure with a trowel and should be able to smash two patties at once.
  • This one is the least important for smashing burgers, but I like having it nearby when cooking most anything on the stove. I bought this Infrared thermometer and use it a lot to know how hot my surfaces are.
  • You will need a good metal spatula to flip your patties. It’s important to scrape under the patty so that you do not lose any of the crispy seared texture that you’re working hard to achieve.

The last item that you’ll need is some sort of pan or griddle. Cast iron works really well here. The main thing to remember is that you’re going to be smashing and scraping so you wouldn’t want to use a Teflon coated pan with metal spatulas. I personally own a Baking Steel griddle that fits over one stovetop burner and I can easily smash two patties at the same time. This is also great for grilled cheese sandwiches or melts, but that’s another blog post for another day.

Check out the recipe below for the procedure that I use for my typical smash burger. Try it and impress your friends!

Ultra Crispy Double Smash Burger view printable page for this recipe

Here's a super simple burger recipe that requires a couple of easy techniques to learn. You could even substitute ground turkey if you wanted something different.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20 is best)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Slices of your favorite cheese (American works best)
  • Hamburger buns and whatever toppings you might require

Directions:

The most consistent way to make any type of burger is to weigh your meat on a scale first. If you don't have a scale proceed to #2. if you have exactly 1 pound (450 grams or so) you'd want to weigh it into 2.65 ounces (56 grams) balls. If you have a pound of meat you should end up with 8 small piles of meat. If you have a scale you can skip #2.

If you do not have a scale, you need to divide your meat in half until you have two pieces. Then divide each of those two in half until you have four pieces and then divide each of those four pieces in half until you have eight total similarly sized pieces. 

After weighing or dividing your meat, make each portion into balls. Do not over work the meat or mix it up. 

Get your skillet or surface hot. If you're using a skillet, don't use a non-stick one or this process might lead you to get it scratched and ruined. If it's a black non-stick skillet, it's possibly covered with a teflon surface and you can scratch it with metal spatulas. Don't ruin your pan. I typically use a cheap infrared thermometer to monitor the surface area of my skillets and flattop surfaces and 400 degrees is usually where I start cooking. 

Place two balls of meat on your skillet or flat top with four or five inches between each ball. If you're using a skillet, you will probably only be able to cook two patties at a time. 

Once the balls hit the hot surface give them 10 or 15 seconds and smash. You're going to want to use a lot of pressure and smash them really hard. The goal here is to get as much surface area of the meat to touch the hot surface as possible. If you have a flat top or a griddle, you might want to use some sort of very heavy spatula or even a clean finishing trowel from your local hardware store. 

As soon as you've finished smashing, this is when we season. Hit the (hopefully) very thin patty with some salt and pepper. You can season again when you flip, but this is when you should do most of the seasoning. 

Cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes on this first side.

Use a sharp spatula and scrape under the patty in order to flip. The goal here is to make sure you don't lose any of the crispies you worked hard to build up with the smashing process. 

Once flipped to the second side, you will want to season and cook for another minute. After you season this side, you should add any slices of cheese you want on the patty. 

If you're making a double (and you should - this recipe is for a double after all) you should stack one patty on top of the other with one slice of cheese between the patties while they're on the heat. Cook another 30 or so seconds and pull them all off the heat. 

Now you have a smash burger patty and the rest is up to you. Add "toppings" or "bottomings" or even eat it without a bun. You're in charge. 

Notes:

If you're doing this with ground turkey, you would want to put some butter or oil on the pan/flat top prior to cooking to give it a little help in the fat department. 

With beef and with turkey you can watch the meat cook almost all the way through before flipping. So if you're concerned about your turkey being fully cooked (as you should be) then you can rest assured that it is after flipping.