a food blog by erin
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Cook Off Part 2: Sliders

The second Chopped challenge is off, and like Chris, I chose a cuisine that I knew I could excel in. For me, that would be an ultimate burger in miniature form. The slider. Challenge #2 went down in my kitchen, and I got to use a new toy.

Let me lead with the competition burger.

Be warned. Chris put together a true challenger. Bacon wrapped-bison burger with goat cheese and arugula. I really liked the technique here. With a really lean meat like buffalo, you need to make sure you're burger doesn't dry out too much on the grill. Wrapping bacon around it will definitely fix that!

The Chris Burger was sure tasty and quite clever, but does it stand up to what I had to offer?

When I think slider, I'm really thinking sliders. I wanted to serve up two juicy burgers, and I wanted each layer of the burger to be unique to its sibling. I also wanted to make as much of these sliders from scratch, because after all this is the most serious food competition possible.

Burger number 1. Ground lamb slider patty with tzatziki, manchego, sliced red onions, and roasted tomatoes on a poppyseed, onion, and salt bun.

Burger number 2. Ground pork, sirloin, and bacon patty with garlic aioli, muenster, and julienned peppers, roasted, on a sesame, garlic, and salt bun.

There was a hell of a lot of work to do in the kitchen, and so many things needed to come together.

I started in the morning beginning the baking process of those heavenly slider buns. After work, I came home and used my new meat grinder that connects to a KitchenAid stand mixer (kindly gifted by Erin/Bonnie for "Father's Day") to grind up all the meats. Home grinding your meat is a lot of work but is really really tasty and lets you easily create your perfect combo patties.

Next I needed to make homemade tzatziki sauce and homemade aioli from scratch. Aioli is just mayonnaise, and mayo is just egg yolks mixed super slowly with olive oil (i.e. 1/4 tsp at a time). That was a long mixing session, but it came out perfectly.

Finally, the vegetables needed to be sliced, oiled and baked. Phew, I'm tired just remembering it all. But it was delicious, all three of the burgers that were served.

After everyone had filled their face with slider, the judges discussed privately and gave my two sliders preference over Chris's. But there's still a 3rd challenge coming, so it's anyone's game (and free wine for the victor).