Category: sandwiches

Everything Pork Smash Burgers with Toasty Hoop Cheese

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2015

Smashburgers!  or Smash Burgers?  No matter which you way you prefer, they’re everywhere these days… but do you know what that actually means?  

My definition is a good old ground meat burger,  smashed somehow or other, and cooked so that you get a nice, uneven edge from “smashing” that has little nooks and crannies with crunchy little bits and pieces and a crusty bite to them.
The kind we love from our favorite hole-in-the-wall grills and diners!

Most smashburgers are made with ground beef.  But y’all know I don’t do “most.” That’s why I made these with good old NC ground pork!  If you can’t source from a local farmer, you can find ground pork in any grocery store… it’s what I use in my egg rolls too!  

When I was growing up, this is how mama made hamburgers, because she near’bout burnt everything she cooked… and our burgers were no exception. They were crunchy alright!  But actually real good.  Even if they were shriveled up little things… the steamed buns daddy insisted on (and me too to this day) made them tolerable while lost inside the bun.  They just didn’t have a “name” way back then. But now I know, she was cooking smashburgers!

For me, there are 5 things that make up a really great smashburger. The first three… the key to getting that crunch is the right fat ratio (at least 80/20 fat), making them not very big (3-4 ounces) so you can smash big and thin, and a very hot cooking surface… like a preheated cast iron skillet or griddle. 

These days, lots of folks have Blackstone griddles… found at varying price points here and there (self included), and I love that thing!  It’s perfect for making smashburgers and with this recipe, making the “toasty cheese” alongside them! You can cook these in a hot skillet indoors, but because of the high heat and grease, I highly recommend cooking your smashers outside.  If you don’t have a griddle, a cast iron skillet works great!

Number four… as for the cheese, you can use any kind of melty cheese, but I’m a big fan of hoop cheese! (Read about hoop cheese here at North Carolina’s Ashe County Cheese.)

I grew up with it. And it’s often seen… little slices wrapped in “cellophane” with saltine crackers by the register at country stores. Just right to grab for breakfast on the way to work, or a mid-morn or afternoon snack when taking a break from work on the farm.  Enough to “tide you over” till lunch or suppertime.

Mama, not being a cook, would sometimes melt hoop cheese in her cast iron skillet and throw some canned biscuits in the oven. Supper would be biscuits and cheese… spoonsful of the ooey gooey melted cheese over top of those split biscuits.  I can see that good stuff now… with that little golden orange ring of grease around the edge that cooked out of that melted cheese.

Last but certainly worth special attention… really good rolls are the crowning glory for your burgs.  You’ll want something that’s going to hold that luscious burger without it falling to pieces while you savor every crunchy bite!  My favorite are potato rolls, that only get better with the brushed-on butter and light grilling inside out, so you get a little soft with a little crisp too. 

As for toppings, offer up anything that suits your fancy. I like to keep those simple on my smashburgers, so not one bit of the crunchy goodness is lost. 

Memorial day is almost here… and a perfect time to fix a bunch of smashburgers and have a grand ole time with those you love! A Smash Bash… to celebrate and remember those who have served our nation to protect the land of the free… home of the brave!  

Fix some of my Smoky Okra Fries to enjoy alongside and Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfaits for dessert. 

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Get your burg on y’all!

Everything Pork Smash Burgers with Toasty Hoop Cheese

When the burger craving comes upon us, nothing else will do. Smashburgers: those delectable little patties with a bit of crunch — the kind we seek out at our favorite hole-in-the-wall burger joints. I used NC ground pork for these, topped with hoop cheese.

Course: Fun Food!, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, Gluten Free, Grilling, Keto Friendly, Kid-Friendly, Southern, Summer Food, Tailgating
Keyword: blackstone griddle, burger, cast iron cooking, hoop cheese, smash burger, smashburger
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork (at least 80/20 fat)
  • 2 tablespoons ‘everything bagel’ seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt (optional-due to saltiness in cheese)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil in bowl
  • Buns (potato or brioche)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 pound wedge hoop cheese
Instructions
  1. Place griddle or large cast iron skillet on grate. Preheat grill (or griddle) to highest heat.

  2. Combine pork and seasonings and mix as little as possible. (The more you handle, the tougher the meat will be.)

  3. Divide into 12 balls. Roll in bowl of oil and place onto hot griddle or skillet. Do not move for at least 1 minute. Flip, then using the bottom of a mason jar, “smash” the burger to make it thin. Cook about 2 minutes, turn and cook the other side about the same to get a good sear. Stack in pan to the side to keep warm.

  4. For the buns, brush the insides with melted butter. Grill the buttered sides while the burgers cook. Place burgers onto “ungrilled” outsides of buns (buttered side out).

  5. Put mounds of hoop cheese into hot skillet or on griddle. As it melts, scoop a portion with spatula onto each burger and eat as is or add toppings.

…the banana sandwich

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ahhh Collard Sandwiches… North Carolina culinary Heritage at its finest!

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Collard Sandwiches have a long history here in North Carolina. They are so tasty, feature some of our finest foods… and you will be the belle of the ball when you take to potlucks or serve at your own gatherings. Just MAKE SOME. It doesn’t get much easier. Sit some out and watch ’em disappear

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Spaghetti Grilled Cheese Sandwich in Cheese Puddle

Sometimes you’ve just gotta carb out… and if you’re not up to that, then you need to check on out now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:  Wendy’s Spaghetti & “meatballs” Sauce recipe is here! It was published in January Carolina Country since this original post as mentioned below.
Wendy’s Spaghetti Sauce… finally on “paper!”

I apologize up front for this horrific picture! Was done inside my tiny camper on a dark rainy day with the worst light ever!
Remake due… 

I’d say spaghetti, preferably mine, ranks in my Top 5 fave foods. I can eat it cold, hot… and anywhere in-between. I’ve been known to open the fridge and grab a pinch with my fingers in the middle of the night when I wake up and my belly is growling on the way to pee!  Nope, not gonna grab a fork while sleep walking. I can’t sleep as it is, so by the time I’d do all that, might as well just be up for the rest of the night and next day.

Spaghetti for breakfast? Sign me up.  Spaghetti sauce on garlic bread minus the pasta?  For sure!  I’m just a sketti love’n gal, period.  BUT… I only want angel hair… I don’t take much of a like’n to fat pasta… as my daddy called it “doughty” ~ and I love lasagna, but I pick around those big fat wads of noodles to eat the good stuff! When I’m finished with lasagna, you can count on a blob of “cleaned” noodles over to the side. 

One of the publications I write recipes for keeps asking, “why haven’t we published your spaghetti yet?”  Well, if I can make it all fit in a 200 word count recipe (that’s my limit!), by gosh by golly it will be in the January issue.  Because it’s a cold Saturday or Sunday kinda thing to do.  Not to mention my recipe makes ‘tween 2 and 3 gallons at the time. But hey… who makes ONE meal of spaghetti?  That’s just silly. Especially for a gal who’d as soon eat that as a piece of burnt-end pork belly.
Well, ummm… that’s a close tie!

So I’m gonna have to make a batch and actually write it down, because magazines don’t take too kindly to recipes that say…
“cook a few lbs. of x, then add some (insert seasonings here) until it tastes right.”  This throw cook’n girl has a real “challenge” putting what’s in my head (and pot) on paper so others who say “OH I WANT THAT RECIPE” can have one and make it too.  

So back to this spaghetti recipe.
Another lifetime ago when I managed the kitchen in a division hospital of WakeMed in my little town of Zebulon, I had a spaghetti eat’n friend. (We also had in common the love of Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup right out of the can or on bread.)  Tami would bring spaghetti from home and sit in our little staff dining room and make spaghetti sandwiches. I’m thinking… “that’s genius!”  Never then did the thought cross my mind to turn her masterpiece into a Spaghetti Grilled Cheese Sandwich. This revelation didn’t come to me until years later.  I don’t know why I’ve never thought to put it “on paper”  (duh! like so many others) and share until today. I have phases of “cheese need” and have had “the need” this week. And had some delicious cheese bread they make at my local Lowe’s Grocery Store… Andddddd, I had taken some of my sauce out of the freezer. (When you make gallons at the time, that’s a perk you can do any old time!)  

Funeral Food Note:  When somebody passes and I need to take some funeral food… guess what I take?  Yep, spaghetti! Because I have a freezer full… and folks bow at my feet… because it’s not a box of fried chicken and biscuits they can’t possibly eat any more of and give to somebody else to take home! 

So I’m look’n at that cheese bread think’n…. “self, I bet that bread right there would make one fine spaghetti grilled cheese sandwich!”

So I throw some water in a pot and got my handful of angel hair cook’n while I heated some sauce. When done, I drained the pasta and stirred the sauce right into it… my cast iron fave-most-used-kitchen-tool went on the burner.  I keep some roasted garlic oil made (one of these days I will post how to do that but for now, it’s on my facebook page several times)
so I just brushed both sides of the cheese bread with that… put one piece in the med-hot skillet… shredded cheddar…sketti…more cheddar… then top bread!  When it was toasty on the first side, I just flipped it over and when about half toasted on the other side, I scattered more grated cheese on and around the sandwich… to make the “puddle.” Ta.Da.
Spaghetti Grilled Cheese Sandwich in Cheese Puddle!
Tip: Let some get a little “almost burned” around the edges, because that is bonus cheese!

Now you might wonder what all that stuff is sprinkled on my sammich.  You can make this delicious concoction without it, but I’m a rabid fan of Savory Spice Shop’s “Brooklyn Everything Bagel Bread Topping.”  You know, like is on those yummy “everything bagels?”  If you have a Savory near you, SHOP THERE!  If not, order online. It’s a cook’s toy store. You can buy little bits or a boatload of things… they have lots of great salt free blends for folks that don’t need more of that… and all sorts of stuff. You’ve just never seen anything like it, and if you go to the Raleigh store, you tell Cindy and the crew I sent you.  So THAT is what you see scattered all over my sandwich… because that’s stuff is sooooo gooood on near’bout everything! 

My parting words… this is a pretty hardy sandwich, so you might want to share one… or, you might not!  Just get to grill’n.  Use whatever bread you like… something like a good sourdough will get nice and crunchy. I love crunchy.  Mix and match or change the cheese. Fix it like y.o.u. like it.
You know you want one now don’t you?
When you break down into carboliciousness, please do come back here and share your “experience” and send me a picture… better yet, go post it on my Wendy’s Home Economics! Facebook Page.  

 

…”two hot dogs and a drink”

…”two hot dogs and a drink!”

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