Onion-bacon-cheddar sliders are decadently delicious
In photos: Sister-in-law Sheri stirs the carmelized onions for the sliders, shown ready to serve. (Karen Bjornland photos)
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Or maybe not.
Three weeks ago, after vacationing in Sin City, I brought back five extra pounds.
That’s because I went wild in the kitchen of my dear sister-in-law Sheri.
Sheri has worked as a personal chef, preparing and delivering homemade gourmet lunches to Las Vegas salons and spas. Her new cottage industry is making vegan, gluten-free Crave Balance energy bars that she sells at the local farmers’ market.
While I was her guest, I nibbled and noshed morning, noon and night. There was a lovely frittata stuffed with veggies, a rosemary-dijon pork roast, handmade cavatelli, irresistible artisan cheeses with Proseco Mimosas and crunchy crackers. And that’s just the beginning.
For a Northeast dweller beaten down by an extra-cruel winter, the food experience was heightened by the fact that nearly all our meals were enjoyed outdoors, under a palm tree and next to a tiny garden packed with peppers, tomatoes and herbs.
For health reasons, I don’t usually eat red meat or bacon, but this was Las Vegas and I got a little crazy.
One night, her neighbors in Henderson came over for a backyard cookout and margaritas.
The menu was Carmelized Onion, Bacon and Cheddar Sliders with Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
We all know about sliders, those mini bun sandwiches, but did you know that the word for them may have originated in the U.S. Navy, when greasy burgers slid around the grill as a ship sailed the ocean waves?
My sister-in-law happily agreed to share her recipe with The Gazette.
2 big onions
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. butter
11⁄2 pounds ground beef
Hot sauce (Sheri used a mustard-and-chili-pepper Caribbean sauce)
1 pound bacon (Sheri likes uncured apple wood bacon from Trader Joe’s)
8 oz. block of cheddar cheese
Trader Joe’s sesame seed slider buns
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Slice the onions into thin rings and saute in the olive oil and butter.
“You don’t want them to brown fast,” Sheri says, standing over the stove in a bright pink apron. “These are going to cook for a long time, maybe an hour or more.”
While the onions do their thing, in a small bowl, she makes a condiment for the burgers, mixing ketchup and mayo one-to-one, and adding a dash or two of hot sauce.
Then she halves the bacon slices, fries them, drain them, and puts them into another small serving bowl.
Sheri slices the cheese into two-inch squares and sets it aside, then slices the tomatoes and places them in a third small serving dish.
For the burgers, Sheri uses organic ground beef, with 15 to 20 percent fat, and shapes the meat into small patties.
“Two to three ounces is good,” she says. “About three inches across, the size of a flattened meatball.”
For better grilling, she makes a small dent in each patty with her thumb, then seasons the tops with salt and pepper.
The Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries are easy.
Peel six big sweet potatoes and slice into strips. Place in big bowl and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. When ready to bake, place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Keep in oven until burgers are ready.
After more than a hour, the two big onions have been transformed into a sweet, soft condiment that barely measures a cup, and they are transferred to a serving bowl.
Outdoors, brother-in-law Bill is the grill master. He cooks and flips the burgers, puts the cheese on the patties and melts it.
When the burgers are ready, Sheri slips them into the small buns and arranges the sliders on a serving tray, next to the do-it-yourself bowls of carmelized onions, sauce, tomatoes and bacon.
There were seven of us, and we each grabbed two sliders and added the toppings.
As I bite devilishly into the first luscious slider, Sheri offers more ideas for slider toppings.
“You could try canned green chilis. Instead of cheddar, you could use Gruyere,” she says. “Or blue cheese crumbles would be amazing.”
When our grill rolls out onto the patio this month, I plan to invite some friends over and make Sheri’s sliders.
For one crazy night, I’ll live dangerously once again, and slide off my no-meat routine.
I’ll just blame it on Las Vegas.
“In & Out of the Kitchen,” a wide-ranging column about cooking, eating and buying food, is written by Gazette staffers. You can reach us at email@example.com.