Sliders: Sliding into Comfort

By Michael Araj

The burger. Is it the perfect food? It’s hand held, it’s meaty, and it’s topped with salad on it half the time (yes, lettuce, tomato and onion counts as a salad in my book). It is the ultimate blank canvas. The ultimate piece of art.

We made sliders for the Superbowl this year (along with the chicken wings), and they did not disappoint. We used the buffalo sauce from the wings recipe as well as a condiment with some fresh mozzarella. This recipe allows you to innovate and improvise as much as you want. Going Whole30? In one of the photos, you’ll see that we replaced the dinner rolls for butter leaf lettuce, and replaced the cheese and buffalo sauce for a tomato salad on top.

So give this recipe a shot and create your own piece of art.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh ground beef (we used bottom round that we ground ourselves, you can use store bought but we highly recommend grinding your own or buying from a reputable source).
  • 2  tsp Italian seasoning (we made our own – dried oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne powder; mix them together and play around with measurements to make it the way you like!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup buffalo sauce
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Mix the ground beef with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, but do not overwork the meat. Formulate into 8 patties, approximately 2 inches in diameter. Push your thumb into one side of each patty in the middle to make an indentation.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan on medium high heat with a little olive oil. Once hot, working in batches, cook the patties 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness. After flipping (only flip once), add the mozzarella after 2 minutes into cooking the second side).
  3. Let drain on a cutting board or other surface and let rest for 10-15 minutes so the juices can reabsorb.
  4. Meanwhile, cut dinner rolls in half (toast if desired). Spread the buffalo sauce on each side of the roll. Add the patty (with the melted cheese) and formulate your sliders. Serve immediately.
  5. Be creative – don’t like Italian spices? Stick with salt and pepper and build a regular slider with ketchup, mustard, mayo and all the usual veg. There’s no wrong answer here – it’s what you like!

Just Winging It

By Michael Araj

With the big game on last week, our family continued a long-standing tradition where my father would watch the game, and my mother and I would cook several appetizers for dinner to see which one of us would win our wager. A coffee table is as good as any for comfort, and last week was no exception.

On the menu? Well, like most of America, one dish above all others is a constant on our table for the Superbowl and that’s wings. My mother’s and I’s wager extended beyond the game this year as we each strove to make the best wings possible to determine the best approach. Our efforts resulted in a delicious tie, but either of these recipes will be a win with your family.

Buffalo Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I prefer Crystal)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until butter is melted and ingredients have had time to meld.
  2. This can be made ahead of time. If you’re making this ahead of time, let cool and then refrigerate.

Baked Buffalo Wings:

Ingredients:

  • 15 wings (drumettes or flats – I used a combination), cleaned and wing tips removed
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Buffalo Sauce (recipe above)
  1. Overnight, place the wings on a tray and place in the fridge. This will help remove moisture from the exterior of the wings and aid in making them crispy.
  2. Take the wings out approximately 30 minutes before making this recipe so that they are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt, thyme, oregano, cayenne together thoroughly and using a shallow pan or a plastic bag, dredge each of the wings until the wings are well coated with the flour mixture (shake off excess). Discard any remaining flour.
  4. Get a rimmed baking sheet and place a wire rack on top of it that is oven safe. Grease the wire rack and add the wings to the rack.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes and then flip the wings. After flipping the wings, increase the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake an additional 25 minutes, or until there is an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the wings.
  6. Once the wings are done, take out of the oven. While hot, toss the wings in a bowl of the buffalo sauce coating as much as is preferred. However, keep in mind that the more sauce you use, the less crispy the wings will be.
We found out after the fact that we didn’t have tartar sauce but this sweet chili sauce also went well with the pungent spices of the Old Bay seasoning.

Fried Old Bay Wings:

            Ingredients:

  • 15 wings (drumettes or flats), cleaned and wing tips removed.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Take the wings out approximately 30 minutes before making this recipe so that they are at room temperature.
  2. Heat up canola oil in a cast iron skillet (filled approximately 1/3 of the way and not more than ½ way) for frying. The temperature should reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. While the oil is heating, combine the flour, Old Bay Seasoning, and cayenne together thoroughly; using a shallow pan or a plastic bag, dredge each of the wings until the wings are well coated with the flour mixture (shake off excess). Discard any remaining flour.
  4. Once the oil is heated, fry each wing about 12-14 minutes, flipping half way through. Work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. If you put too many wings into the oil, the temperature of the oil will decrease leading to soggy wings. Soggy wings make people sad. Don’t make soggy wings.
  5. Once the wings are cooked, move them to a plate lined with paper towels so as to drain the excess oil. While hot, sprinkle some Old Bay onto the cooked wings so that it will adhere. Be careful though as Old Bay tends to be salty.
  6. Move the drained wings onto a serving platter, serve with your favorite tartar sauce and celery. Serve immediately.