24 (Sun) May 2015
The Original Slider – Cheeseburgers
by White Castle
in my apartment
CAN OF WORMS…
The slider is an American sandwich. It’s a special type of burger recognizable by its small square shape but defined by how it’s made.
The technique evolved in restaurants looking to quickly churn out simple portable burgers for customers on the run.
Traditionally, the process begins by spreading and grilling a large quantity of minced onions on a griddle with a touch of oil. The onions are then topped with ground beef, either a gigantic ball that’s smashed directly on the griddle into a thin layer or a slab that’s been rolled out separately and the transferred to the griddle in whole. The flavor of the onions underneath penetrates the beef as it cooks. Meanwhile, the meat is divided with a cutter into equal squares — say, 10 patties across, 4 patties up — each about 8 cm (3 in) in length. The patties are flipped over using a long spatula — say, 1 column of 4 patties at a time — exposing the onions now caramelized and imbedded in the beef. While the flip side cooks, each patty is topped with a slice of pickle, a slice of cheese, and the top bun, which softens and takes on flavor from the steam rising from below and fuses with the melting cheese. The bottom buns — square buns are also much easier to bake — are separately laid out and swiped with mayo/mustard/ketchup. When the meat is cooked and the cheese is melted, the patties are transferred to the waiting bottom buns to complete the process — 40 sliders within minutes.
The etymology of the term is unknown, but it may refer either to how the cook manipulates the patties in a sliding motion and/or to how the burgers are rapidly prepared and slid down chute and/or to how smoothly the burgers slide down the throat.
Contrary to popular belief (see for example 2.084 American Burger…), a burger does not become a slider by virtue of merely being small or square.
White Castle is an American burger chain. Founded in 1921 in Kansas. Still family-owned. Just over 400 branches, mostly in the mid-west, as well as a handful in New York City, where it’s long been an icon of street culture (e.g., The Beastie Boys often reference White Castle in their lyrics; the famous pig-out scene in Saturday Night Fever was filmed at a White Castle restaurant). With the slider as its signature item, the company is attributed both for raising a working class dish of convenience to national fame and for pioneering the concept of fast food. Nowadays, White Castle sliders are also available in frozen form at the supermarket.
The sliders were good, in the worst possible way. Squishy bread, sweet onions, creamy processed cheese, savory beef — steamy perfection after 2 minutes in the microwave. The four that I had here accounted for 620 calories (about 25% of my daily recommended intake), 16 grams of saturated fat (80%), 8 mg of cholesterol (26%), and 1220 mg of sodium (50%). I had room to eat at least 3 times as much, and would’ve had more if available. Dangerous product.