SFC: The Juicy

                I’ve been in a mood for some experimentation, and lucky for me last night we were all in the mood for burgers, of which we already had three ground patties. So I figured I’d try a little riff on a Juicy Lucy that’s been floating in my head for a few days.

                So, split each patty in half, flattening, and in the middle put a couple pieces of good-ol American cheese (the only REAL cheese one can use for a Juicy Lucy) and a whole egg yolk. Sadly, didn’t think about turning this into a blog post until after I added the top patties, so no pics of the yolk-in-burger. There is a nice shot of the little meat packages though; a good display of proper Lucy seal-age. And all of us who have tried know how important a good seal is along the edges.


                Treated the buns like any good burger place would: Buttered and Grilled; makin’ sure of course to keep that 60-40 split.


                Onto the burgers. Had to be especially delicate with these, considering its valuable cargo, but I think I pulled it off quite nicely (as you’ll see). Though, if you look closely, you can see one did end up squirting on the grill, which wasn’t surprising; had problems sealing that one anyway. It was fine, though; Dad decided he wasn’t going to tell us when he was coming home, so he got the one missing most of its filling.


                Was a quick-make dinner, so ended up keeping the toppings simple. While I’m here, a little lesson on sandwich architecture! We’ve already covered the foundations for our structure, the bread (see Pulled Pork), now we get to the cement and woodwork. I start with a little mayo on the bottom, like a club; now, why is it that we usually spread some sort of butter, mayo, melted cheese, mustard, sauce, etc on the tops and bottoms of our sandwiches? Besides, of course, being easier than trying to spread it on a piece of lettuce, these oily sauces serve a very important function in Burgers: moisture retention.


                By placing a barrier of rich, oil-based spread between the bun and other ingredients, one prevents the juices of said meat and/or watery vegetables from leaking into the bread and making it soggy. Which is why Bulldog NE covers the bottom of every one of their burgers in a flavorful aioli.

                Has anyone actually wondered why we like tomatoes and ketchup so much on our burgers and sammiches? Besides tasty factor, the answer is quite simple, that being the tomato’s high amount of Acid. This is always a key factor when creating balance in quality dishes, and in a burger’s case it helps cut through the fattiness of cheese and meat. Speaking of which, ignore all these people who say how much better “lean meat” is. May be healthier, but all the juiciness, all the real FLAVOR from steaks and burgers come from the Fat. So ignore the expensive 95% “lean meat” and go for the high-fat, high-awesome stuff; hell, I’ve heard of a chef who take 70/30 and adds in ground fatback.


                Mustard also helps with this, considering all the vinegar used in its creation. Last on my burger, a nice piece of lettuce; not much to say other than it stays crisp, helps with moisture barriers, and all that. Just remember kiddies: grab your leaves of lettuce from the CENTER of the head/heart/leaf-bundle-thingy. The best, sweetest part of any greens is the one hidden away from that bright sun, where it’s developed all but none of that bitter chlorophyll (and it is bitter, taste a dark green leaf to an inner light-green from the same lettuce head). Though the bitterness can come in use with some dishes… but I like the sweeter center better.


                Burgers have rested a couple minutes while I finish building my sammich, and I’m ready to chow down. I will say, it’s a good thing I cut this thing before I took a pic, cuz there was a LOT of gooey-juicy stuff inside; lost quite a bit on the cutting board. But the cheese was perfect, the yolk was still nice n runny… and look how photogenic it was!


                I say was since it didn’t last long… that was quite the successful experiment. Could really tell that the burger and cheese tasted “richer” from that yolk-fat, which also really heightened the naughty messiness of a good Lucy eating. If I did this again, though, I would SO add me some bacon, then do this on an English Muffin for a Breakfast-Lucy. Just need to find a big enough muffin to hold it… or try and get some smaller yolks…

                As far as Street Food goes, this so does not fit the “holdability” factor at all. That said, I think it still has the spirit of a Food Truck item, even if one wouldn’t be caught in their right mind trying to produce it for a menu.


Where’s your favorite stuffed burger made?

SFC: Hot Dog Homage

If you’re like me, you LOVE Sun-dried Tomatoes; not the regular mass-produced ones in a plastic bag, though, those are pieces of crap. We’re talking about the Oil-Cured Tomatoes, the ones floating in a small glass jar with pieces of dried rosemary and other herbs. Ohhh god, they’re just so rich and concentrated, like the best tomato sauce ever; I swear it’s the closest I’ve gone to orgasmic outside of Foi Gras. Not to mention after eating you still have that super-tomatoey oil left over to use… or just drink as-is… don’t look at me like that.

Working with my dehydrator a couple days ago, I figured I’d halve some of the leftover cherry tomatoes that are starting to get wrinkly. Dried them up, popped into a Tupperware with olive oil and dried herbs, and now they sit in my fridge for use. Certainly something I suggest people try if they have the ability; if you have an oven that goes down to 135-150, you should be able to dry them out nicely, just go as low as it can go and wait 6+ hours.


Besides munching on them alone, I love using these for garnishes to things (they are perfect in the morning with cottage cheese, a bit of pepper, and some of that oil drizzled on top). Just so happened I had a leftover grilled sausage in the fridge (it was like a chicken-andouille thing…), great for lunch.


Lucky for me, there’s still some of that special Scottish Whole-Grain Mustard, cooked and preserved with Whiskey of course, in the pantry. A little line of dried cherry toms, big glob of that Mustard (surprisingly delicate in flavor, but that’s what happens when you don’t grind them), and I got myself a nice little Hot Dog Snack.


And yes, that is a slice of bread… we used all the buns, and I find it an easy way to eat hot dogs.

If I was really trying to make my perfect homage to the Hot Dog, think I would just HAVE to make a tarragon aioli to sprinkle on top. Maybe take some spicy pickle slices and deep-fry them for a crispy component on the Dog.


              What special ingredients and things do you like putting on your Hot Dogs/Sandwiches?





Main Location: Minneapolis, Markets, Etc

            What kind of blog focused on Street Food would this be if we didn’t talk about hot dog carts sooner or later? And when we have a certain cart named Natedogs, skirting around the topic becomes blasphemy.

            When I first saw that bright orange cart with the umbrella just sitting randomly on a corner, my legs walking fast as I move myself to the current job, my first thoughts were “hot dog cart… what the hell?” Later I find out it’s an official addition to the rest of our entrepreneur Street Vendors, and my curiosity is peaked; but still not that much. All I could think of was “how good could a hot dog and bratwurst cart be?”

            Ahhhh, how cute, innocent and moronic I was back then.

            Nate Beck has created the epitome of what a Hot Dog Cart can ever be. Every single ingredient and item on the cart is either locally, quality sourced or made by himself, mostly with local ingredients. Pork wieners and brats are made from family farmed, hormone-free pigs. He makes his own Beer Mustards, having quite the passion for mustard and brats, along with any other fantastic and fun condiment (apparently there’s a bacon jam…). Soda is from Spring Grove, and the soft buns are local.

            It is quite the combination for a fun visit.

            Oh, word of advice… don’t EVER mention ketchup when you stop by, not unless Nate decides to make his own.


Food: 9

                Bratwurst and Wiener heaven, the flavors and toppings tend to reminisce the hometown comforts of peppers, onions, sauerkraut , mustard, and so many others. Toppings are great, but we eat for the meat; the sausage mixes are rich and juicy, with that nice snap from the earlier-grilled skin. Local and organic products always do make for better food, especially when one gets to the simpler pleasures such as these.

Holdability: 10

                It’s a hot dog, ‘nuff said.

Price: 10

                 Certainly higher priced than other bratwurst and hot dog options, but not by much. In the whole scope of quality street food, this still provides a higher affordability while holding the high worth of the product.

Speed: 10

                 No reason to detail, straight from the cart and into the bun, garnish with favorite sauces.


The TOE: 10

                Hot Dog carts are an iconic symbol of the street; by dressing it up and turning it into a high-quality, local-driven mirror of its former self, Nate has taken the familiar and ramped it to Legendary. Not only is this Street food, this is Good food, one which any brat lover will be going back to anytime they see it standing on that random corner on their way to work.

                        Tally: 49/50

Final Thoughts

            This cart is a must stop; not the least because it is quick, cheap, and one doesn’t have to worry about it filling up when not hungry. There is no real menu item suggestion, both the simple brat-mustard and the unique options have their high points. Just choose to your taste.

            Certainly ideal for days of visiting multiple Trucks for menu sampling.

            Oh, and if I ever get the chance to visit New York, I’m gonna visit as many good hot dog stands I can find just to say “Yeah, sorry, but we have a better guy up in Minnesota.”


           Cuz that’s pride right there.