My dream: To open an indie burger joint.

  • Location:
  • Favorite foods: Burgers, pizza, quesadillas, roast beef sandwiches, chili, etc.
  • Last bite on earth: One of my quesadillas.

In Praise of a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

Usually nowadays I go to my younger brothers' house for Thanksgiving, and it's usually traditional, except maybe for his bacon-baked beans (and this year he's making a wild rice blend instead of stuffing). But I've just received two cornish game hens as part of a Thanksgiving package, and I'm wondering if I could deep fry them during the weekend.

The Serious Eats Guide to Italian American Recipes

You guys came out with a great Italian-American line-up, but where's the mostaccioli? Whattsamattayou? Don't you know that it's hard to find a big Ital-Am dinner in the St.Louis area without it? But then again. it's hard to find the traditional mostaccioli, with the stripes. Just about everyone nowadays is mistaking penne for it.

Open Thread: What's the Best Frozen Pizza?

I never really "got" into Jeno's/Totino's "party" pizzas; they were too skimpy for me even as a kid. I'm more of a Tombstone/Jack's fan when it comes to frozen. My usual go-to frozen pizza is Jack's bacon cheeseburger pizza, but Jack's Canadian bacon pizza is great when I add extra mozz and bacon bits to make it a double-bacon pizza!

AHT needs its own Burger Hall of Fame! Get your picks in!

Note to Serious Eats writers - get your picks in for the Burger Hall of Fame. Your picks are very much welcome!

Open Thread: What's at the Top of Your Pizza Wish List?

Actually, Kenji, I would need two; although the pizza steel could make great burgers, the Kettle Pizza couldn't.

Open Thread: What's at the Top of Your Pizza Wish List?

Where to go? Pizza tour of Chicago, baby!

Chili Cheese Tater Tots at Crif Dogs

I was first introduced to chili cheese tots at the breakfast/lunch vending machines at my night shift job. To me, it's actually the second best thing in the machines, right after the cheddar and bacon "loaded" baked potatoes. I've even made chili cheese tots at home on a few occasions, and I think I'll make some next week.

Open Thread: What's at the Top of Your Pizza Wish List?

Wishing that I could keep a grill on my apartment balcony. I'd actually have two, one with half a flat-top, so I can make burgers without setting off the smoke alarm, and a Weber with a Kettle Pizza and a pizza steel on top.

Taste Test: British Digestives

Since Wal-Mart owns Asda, you'd think you'd see more Asda-branded items in the international section of your nearest Supercenter, so why don't they? And it's also curious that only two of the "posh" supermarket brands were among the favorites (although Sainsbury's is at the top and Marks & Spencer's was third), and the more "common" supermarket brands (Asda and Tesco) owned most of the favorites list. What exactly was wrong with the other two posh brands, Morrison's and Waitrose?

The Burger Lab: How To Make The Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

As I read this, I'm thinking, "What about round Italian pancetta bacon?" The supermarket where I usually get picked up and dropped off from work has it, and it's great with a hash brown patty in a toasted bagel with cream cheese sandwich.

Echo and Rig Blurs the Line Between Butcher and Steakhouse in Las Vegas

I almost forgot. The cheeses would be top-quality, pickles would be either whole or wedges on the side, and at the Burgerhouse, bacon on the burgers would be it bits, rather than slices, to compliment, not overpower the meat. I'd save the bacon slices for my BLTs, BLBTs, and BLBTBs.

What's Up in Pizza: Pizza Hut's Touchscreen Tables, Oscar Pies, and More!

You don't like much award shows, too? Kate, I think I'm starting to fall in love with you.

Echo and Rig Blurs the Line Between Butcher and Steakhouse in Las Vegas

This great piece of journalism is like serendipity to me, because just last week, a concept popped into my mind about a half-butcher shop, half-restaurant, only instead of steak, my concept specialized in burgers; at the butcher shop side, you could get ground steak in single cuts, multi-cut blends and even ground dry-aged cuts and blends by the pound, in patties or in what I call "burger balls," for people who like smashed burgers. The restaurant side would be a "Burgerhouse," combining the best of steakhouses and burger joints, where you could get mini-samplers, 1/4 and 1/3lb. smashed burgers, and 1/2lb. or griddled bigger burgers made from the ground cuts and blends (even the 30 day dry-aged ones), cooked to your order. The toppings would be simple, but quality; romaine lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, red, white, green or Vidalia onions (your choice), and since the butcher shop/restaurant idea would be in Chicago, giardinara and sport peppers, among others. The sauces would again be quality, but applied sparingly, to let the meat shine through; Dijon mustard, a "house sauce" more steak sauce-based than Thousand Island (although you can get that, too), and ranch dressing, among others. The buns would be potato rolls for the minis and medium-sized burgers, and right now I'm thinking of a kaiser roll made with potato flour for the 1/2lb. and larger burgers. The sides would be a mix of traditional steakhouse sides (definitely wedge salads and creamed spinach, I'm thinking about others) and burger joint favorites, like beef fat fries (for those who remember McDonald's original fries; I think the butcher house side would provide enough fat to make these possible), although regular hand-cut skin-on fries would be available, among others. And to wash all this down, cocktails, a red-dominated wine list, and plenty of Chicago area beers, including Old Style. I'm still wondering if this concept would be a hit, comments are welcome.

As for Echo and Rig, if you can get dry-aged steaks at the butcher shop side, that would be perfect.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Thanks for responding, Kenji. I'm still tempted to get a waffle iron, but any fries that would go in there would have to come straight out of the freezer, fresh-cut, or straight out of the fryer. When I make fries, like I did just 20 minutes ago, there ain't no leftovers ;-D.

Ever thought of waffling hash browns (not patties but Southern-style loose hash browns)? I'd second tater tots, too.

What do I need from the Korean grocery store?

How are you fixed for chopsticks? If you don't have 'em already yoour friend's next gift should be Korean stainless steel chopsticks. Great for almost everything Asian, and a hell of a lot more eco-friendly than those disposable bamboo chopsticks.

Carbondale, IL, where I live, has got a Korean-run store, but it's on the other side of town, and it's a small place. I usually go to Monah's International Groceries. It's run by a Malaysian or Indonesian, I think, but it's much closer, bigger, and it's got just about everything you'd want for any type of Asian cuisine, plus Asian candy! It's where I usually go to satisfy my Pocky fix.
The Korean hole in the wall did have these microwave sticky rice bowls, however (CJ Foods is the brand, I think). Just follow the instructions, and you've got glutenous rice ready for whatever you want on it, or with it.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

If you don't have a wok with a lid already, you should totally get one. and you don't have to use coconut oil, either. Whenever I get the popcorn urge, I just cover the bottom with vegetable oil, pour in as much popcorn that can be mixed with the oil, then put the lid on it and put it on the burner set to low to medium heat, and I just keep it on there until the popping slows down a bit. You, ooops, I mean that "someone" will have so much popcorn, the problem will be finding enough bowls to contain all of it (unless you wait for the wok to cool down and you use that for a bowl).

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

BTW, how long did Kenji keep the fries in the waffle iron for? Fresh-cut or frozen?

Leftover Thoughts on Steak, Chicago Steakhouses, and Service

Oh yeah, I forgot a few things. Since it's Chicago, gianardera and sport peppers would be among the toppings. The buns? Potato buns for the minis and regular-sized burgers, maybe a kaiser roll made with potato flour for the bigger ones.

Leftover Thoughts on Steak, Chicago Steakhouses, and Service

After reading your steakhouse series (Great job!), a concept keeps popping into my head for a burgerhouse, a hamburger spin-off on steakhouses. Actually, it would half a butcherhouse, like Publican Quality Meats, selling chopped steak cuts, blends and especially 30-day dry-aged blends in patties and "burger balls" (for people like smashed burgers) for home use. The other half right next door would be the Burgerhouse, selling cooked samples of the butchershop's wares, in mini-samplers, smashed 1/4 and 1/3 pound patties, and griddled 1/2 pound and larger burgers, cooked to your order, of course. The toppings would be simple, but quality: romaine lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes; red, white, green or Vidalia onions (your choice); pickles would be whole or wedges on the side. Top quality cheeses and bacon bits rather than whole slices, so it won't overpower the beef. Sauces again would be simple, but quality, applied sparingly to let the meat shine through; Dijon mustard, a "house sauce" more steak sauce-based than Thousand Island, although you can get that, too, and ranch dressing, among others.
The sides would be a mix of steakhouse favorites (definitely creamed spinach and wedge salads) and takes on burger joint fare such as beef fat fries (regular, steak and maybe cottage fries would be available, too). As prices go, most of the burgers should be in the middle of the range, but of course, the bigger and dry-aged burgers would be costlier. So, do you think this concept would work in Chicago (definitely not in River North, more likely in the suburbs or a neighborhood where you could get a place big enough for both the butcherhouse and the Burgerhouse)?

Open Thread: What's Your Opinion of Celebrity-Owned Burger Restaurants?

I've never been to any celeb-owned restaurants, but my first thoughts when I hear about a celeb-owned burger joint are the same as any mom-and-pop owned place or fancy-pants burger joint: "How good are the burgers?" "How good are the fries and sides?"

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

About "the race to the bottom": Amen to it not just a NYC thing. In Southern Illinois, just substitute "gas stations" for "dollar slice" joints.

Grilled: J. Dean Loring of Burger Lounge

It's nice to know I'm not the only one with sweet potato issues.

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

Fredipus: I was really referring to an "official" SE Chicago guide, where the Windy City newcomers can easily access it. Maybe you and/or CPD should get together and write it...

Good ish Canned Pizza Sauce

Contadena Pizza Squeeze is my go-to sauce. It's not just great on pre-mades, but on French bread, mini-loaves, bagels, you name the bread, Pizza Squeeze, your toppings and some mozz turns it into pizza. In fact, last night I spread Pizza Squeeze on four slices of white bread, sprinkled bacon bits and and four-cheese pizza blend, and 18 minutes later in a 300 degree oven, had myself some pizza toast. Sounds ghetto, I know, but hey, the fridge is getting a little bare this close to payday.

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

Kenji: You definitely didn't disappoint with this guide. Up next should be a guide to the classic NY pie (as opposed to slice) joints. I was sad to see the Ray's on Prince that started it all went under, but glad that Prince St. Pizza is doing it better.

SEChicago: No, this isn't another pizza feud post. but Chicago now needs a guide to your own styles that's this good, covering thin crust, deep dish, stuffed and other Chicago styles.

AHT needs its own Burger Hall of Fame! Get your picks in!

After seeing Time magazine's 17 Most Influential burgers of all time, I thought, "Why are leaving it up to some wet behind the ears magazine hack determine which burgers are most influential?" A site like A Hamburger Today needs its own Burger Hall of Fame, listing, in the opinion of its writers and readers, the burgers that made history. Here's my short list of recommendations for the Hof, in chronological order:

-Louis Lunch's first hamburger (1900)
-The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair burger - The one which popularized the sandwich we love.
-The original White Castle slider (1921) - First hamburger chain.
-The first cheeseburger (for sale, anyway, The Rite Spot, Pasadena, CA, 1926).
-the first hamburger eaten by Popeye's J. Wellington Wimpy (1931) -Hey, he did give this blog its name, right?
-Bob Wian's first Big Boy burger (Glendale, CA, 1938) - The first double bun burger.
-McDonald's first "Speedee Service" burger (1948) - First modern fast-food burger.
-In-N-Out's first burger (1948) - The pioneers of the drive-thru, and the burger from which the "secret menu" began.
-The 21 Club Burger (1950) - Arguably, the first "gourmet" burger.
-The first Wimpy Bar burger (1954) - Britain's first burger chain, 20 years before McDonald's made it across the pond.
-Burger King's first burger (Miami, FL, 1954).
-Burger King's first Whopper (1957).
-McDonald's first Big Mac (Pittburgh, PA, 1968).
-Wendy's first burger (Dublin, OH, 1969) - It can arguably said that Dave thomas' chain, by using only fresh meat, decent toppings, no heat lamps, etc., was the forerunner for the "better burger/fast-food style" places (Five Guys, Shake Shack, etc.).
-MOS Burger (1972) - Japan's first home-grown chain and home of the Riceburger.
-McDonald's first Quarter Pounder (Fremont, CA, 1972).
-The first Gardenburger (1981-2) - The first commercially sold veggie burger.

Also on the list, but not in time order:

-The first Patty Melt.
-The first non-beef meat burger (buffalo, etc.)

A deep-fried burger question

Since I bought a deep fryer about three weeks ago at a garage sale, I've had this rush of creativity, finally perfecting my homemade fries, and using them as toppings for my burger sub and regular-sized burgers alike. This weekend, I'm frying the burgers themselves, both with regular ground beef (as "country-fried" burgers) and ground chicken (as fried chicken burgers).
Both the country-fried and fried chicken burgers will be battered and breaded, which leads me to this question: What do you guys think of adding a little gravy to the batter, just to give it a little more oompth?

My full-sized burger sub experiment

In quite a few messages last week, I talked about my mini-burger subs, how these were a way to combines the length and room for customization of a sub with the beefy goodness of a hamburger, how I accessorize them (not just "toppings," but what I put on below the burger as well), and that I've been thinking about making a burger sub with full-sized patties. Well, I just made one a little while ago.

Before I get to the making of the sub, I've got to mention that I bought a deep fryer at a yard sale Friday. The guy who drives me back from my night job likes to stop at yard and garage sales in between work and where I get off on the weekends. At one on Friday, I saw this Presto Cool Daddy deep fryer, clean and in good condition for $5. Immediately, thoughts filled my brain about how great it would be to top my burger subs with homemade fries, as well other ideas like country-fried burgers, but that's for an upcoming experiment. The fryer was just the first my experiment-related buys that day. I'd need something to cut the potatoes with and I've seen this "Natural Cut for Perfect Fries" thing at the "As Seen On TV" aisle at a few stores lately, so I got one of those, too, as well as the rest of what I needed for the sub experiment.

Early this afternoon, I was washing my spuds to get 'em ready for cutting and drying, when I decided to use the Natural Cut. It's basically sleeves; one with the blade screen you put the potato on, and other you put over the spud and push down on. It took both hands to get the spud through the blades, but the results were great - the fries were around Burger King-sized in diameter, but even better - they were fresh and I could keep the skins on 'em, seasoned just with Lawry's! I bought 4 large potatoes, and after cutting 2, I figured that just one would make enough fries to top half a sub. Staring at the mound of fries I made, I decided to see what the Cool Daddy could do. Part 2 coming up!

Keeping homebrew in SodaStream bottles: A good idea?

Summer's just about to start, and in many towns, it means outdoor concerts, like my city's Sunset Concert Series. Sooner or later, you start to think, "Man a good (insert favorite craft beer name here) would taste good right now." Or maybe you're a home brewer and you'd like to sample your wares at the concert. Problem is, most towns have rules against bringing glass bottles to the park, which rules most craft and home brews out. So you trudge down to the beer tent, spending on one beer what you could have spent on a six-pack of regular beer at the store. But recently, a thought had occurred to me. SodaStream bottles keep the soda you make in them fizzy, so why not pour your craft or home brew in one of those and stick a few in the cooler?

Making sugar-free ice cream

I think I'm progressing nicely at ice cream making. I just made my first attempt at my favorite flavor, Rocky Road, with a 60% cacao chocolate base, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, mini-marshmallows and cocoa-covered almonds.

For my next batch, I'm thinking of making sugar-free vanilla to be served at my family's Christmas dinner (I've got a few diabetics in my family). Is it as simple just substituting Splenda for sugar?

Using table salt in an ice cream maker

I've recently bought a used ice cream maker at a yard sale. I've seen a Talk thread where Kenji says you can use any type of salt instead of rock salt. Exactly how much table salt would be needed in an average sized ice cream maker?

Pre-made pizza crust: Why? or Why Not?

When I first saw Slice, I knew that I'll have to talk about this, and while I sometimes think I could get excommunicated from here if I mention it, here goes. Pre-made pizza crust. Yeah, I said it. Sometimes when you're pizza making, you just don't want to spend 20 minutes or more kneading the dough or waiting for it to rise. When the feeling strikes, you want to get as close to now as possible. Or maybe you want a uniform canvas when you're testing out your latest sauce recipe or you want to compare cheeses and/or toppings. Again, it's more about getting to the moment of truth than waiting around. I have made my own crust before, usually with mixes like Chef Boyardee, Appian Way or store brand (the last two are made at the factory where I work), but when I make pizzas, it's usually with a pre-made crust. So, in your mind, is it OK, a necessary evil, or just plain evil? And if you share my view, which crust do you think is the best canvas?

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