So, irrevocably or not, food trucks are a thing. We know this mainly because there are roughly 800 top ten food truck shows on Netflix being narrated by a sweaty and slightly aroused John Goodman.
Mainly I’m alright with it. I mean, the food’s usually really damn good, and it’s mobile. I like the idea of walking around a city and randomly having a cargo truck filled with grilled cheese sweeping around the corner like a half-possessed chariot of fire and subtly-aged cheddar bits.
But I get off the gravy train (truck?) when people start deciding that owning a food truck means you get a free pass to make the “zaniest” food possible. I get that it took you a whole hour to come up with a clever pulled pork pun and that you’re just super fucking proud of it, but that doesn’t mean you get to do whatever the hell you want as long as you write it on a chalkboard with a funny picture next to it.
If you’re gonna make food that’s a little off the beaten path, the least you can do is put some ingredients together that fucking work. A lot of these places are awesome, but there’s plenty that go for shock value instead of “does it taste good”, and that’s just not the proper prioritizing, son. Make the flavors count, and make it something you can carry around a fairly large city with minimal judgment-stares; then you get to make it crazy.
Hopefully I did something along those lines this week. If not, I’m sure a sweaty John Goodman will barrel through my door and tell me so after littering my floor with splintered door chunks and pretzel bites.
Here’s what you need:
- 2 pounds ground beef, with a 20% fat ratio (just ask your butcher/meat person)
- 8 pieces thick applewood-smoked bacon (any bacon works, but this bacon works the best)
- 8 slider-sized buns
- 8 slices cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 fairly ripe bananas
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup dark rum
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 cups thinly sliced red onions
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup dry sherry
Here’s how you do it:
As you should know about onions, the longer you cook them, the better they get. That’s why we’re gonna do the onion jam first; it’ll let us give them all the love and attention they need, so they won’t divorce us and try to take the kids.
Heat up the olive oil on medium-high in a big pot until it starts shimmering.
Add the onions in, cover them, and let them sweat it out for 15 minutes. Stir them once in a while too.
Add the brown sugar, vinegar, and sherry. Stir everything together, uncover it, and stir until it gets nice and thick. Should take about 40 minutes.
Add in a little salt and pepper, and let it cool while you do the rest of the recipe.
For the bananas, melt a couple tablespoons of butter on low heat in a big skillet, and slice up the bananas while you do it.
Once the butter’s melted, stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon until the sugar dissolves and everything’s nice and mixed together.
Take the pan off the burner if you value your eyebrows, then slowly add the rum in. If you’re clever/have any modicum of motor skills, tip the pan so it makes contact with the flame on your range. If you’re like me, use a kitchen torch or a long lighter. Either way, let the rum burn until the fire naturally goes out.
When you no longer have a fire hazard on your hands, cook the sauce for a couple more minutes until it gets syrupy.
Add the bananas in and cook for about a minute on each side, then take them out of the pan and set aside.
Heat up a pan to medium-high and add in the bacon. Pour the maple syrup on top, then set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels once it’s crispy.
Pour out most of the grease left behind by the bacon, leaving just enough so the bottom of the pan is lined with it. Heat it up to medium-high heat, then fry the bananas for about a minute on each side, till you get that golden-brown crispy goodness.
Form the ground beef into small patties roughly the size of your palm (or whatever size your buns are), and season with salt and pepper.
Heat up a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat, then throw the burgers on for about 4 minutes a side for medium-rare, or more if you want dry, overcooked garbage. Your choice, people.
All that’s left is to lightly toast the buns, melt the cheddar on top, throw the sliders together, and keep it all stable with a toothpick.
Keep your ears stable with a classic: The Temptations with I Want a Love I Can See:
Maybe the real lesson is this: there are no free passes in the kitchen. Period.
Even if your kitchen happens to be in the back of a questionably reclaimed ice cream truck, the game’s still the same: make damn good food, make it well, and push the borders just enough to make it stick in someone’s head. Just because you have a truck and a barely functional twitter account doesn’t mean you get to ignore the first two in favor of border-pushing and Guy Fieri-ism.
Get the flavors first, then worry about the flash.
I’ll see you next time.