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Supersizing is so yesterday; mini burgers are new rage

Will somebody please tell me when hamburgers started to shrink?

True, I don't go out often. And, when I do, it's usually to a restaurant that offers lollipops with the kids meal (thank you, A&W).

So, of course, I missed this trend: Mini burgers, called sliders, are popping up at eateries nationwide.

There are meatball sliders topped with homemade marinara sauce. There are lamb sliders stuffed with goat cheese. There are Bombay sliders with garlic curry sauce. Even The Food Network's Alton Brown has a version of sliders, called the Mini Man Burgers.

Now that I have crawled out from under my rock (located just beyond the play area at A&W), I have embraced the small hamburger. What's not to love? You can eat two, maybe three burgers and not feel guilty.

And, in case you didn't know -- again, I didn't -- sliders carry a sort of urban cachet. They are supposedly takeoffs on White Castle burgers, made famous by the restaurant chain of the same name. White Castle is revered in film ("Harold and Humar Go to White Castle" and "Wayne's World") and music (The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Eminem).

Now that I'm a slider expert, I could tell you how the tiny burgers got their name (not an appetizing story), what illicit drug is associated with White Castle slider consumption (it doesn't take a genius to guess), and how you become a slider pilot (eat a nauseating amount of White Castle burgers at one sitting).

Recipes for sliders abound online, in magazines and on TV.

I chose a version from Emeril because it seemed simple, yet decadent.

Shopping was easy. My husband picked up the meat, and we had most of the other ingredients already.

We didn't use brioche buns because our grocery store doesn't carry them. If you want brioche -- a rich bread made with eggs and lots of butter -- you'll probably have to make your own or go to a bakery.

Forming the burgers took some time. Even though I have a journalism degree, I do know a little about math -- very little -- and after scratching my head and chewing on my pencil, I eventually calculated that a ¼-cup measuring scoop is equal to the 2-ounce scoop the recipe says you should use for each burger.

Cooking the bacon was quick and easy. Ditto for whipping up the horseradish mayo. The only difficult thing was grilling the burgers. They're small and cook very quickly. I left mine on too long and they dried out.

In fact, the entire dish was dry, despite several dollops of horseradish mayo. Perhaps this is because we used Dutch crunch dinner rolls instead of brioche?

I still like the idea of mini hamburgers, but I won't make this version again.

I'll just have to wait until A&W jumps on the slider trend.

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at 578-2358 or at kmccray@modbee.com.

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