Monday, January 12, 2015
When I was a teenager back in the 70s, I worked every summer at a drive-in called The Penguin. We made everything from burgers to bananas splits, and served it to you in your car with one of those trays that hooked over your window. The car hops, one of which was my younger sister, was glad to bring you your food, fresh from the grill. She even had a cute coin changer hanging from her belt that jingled when she walked. She could count your change back to you like nobody's business -- right then and there. Oh, those were the days. (Does anybody count change anymore?)
I was not a car hop, but instead, I worked inside at both the fountain and at the grill making beautiful twist cones on a six hole cone tray or slinging burgers on the grill: "Order out!" One of the best-selling burgers we made was the Pizza Burger. It was delicious! Tonight I was craving a pizza burger, but you know, The Penguin is long gone, and if I could get a good pizza burger somewhere, it would be at least an hour drive to the nearest grill. So I decided to make Hubs and I a drive-in special at home.
Here's what you need:
cheese of choice (may use a pizza blend)
veggies of choice, sliced
salt (I like Lawry's seasoning salt) & pepper
your favorite spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce
Here's how I did it, which is similar to my old pizza burger flipping days, but with a twist. First, you need a couple big patties of burger. Salt and pepper them really well. I like to use Lawry's Seasoning Salt on burgers. Once they are seasoned, melt a tablespoon or so of bacon fat in a cast iron skillet (or non-stick skillet). I know ground beef has its own fat, but bacon fat will give it extra browning and good flavor. When the fat is melted and your pan is good and hot, slide the burger in. We like ours on the thin side and wide enough to hold lots of toppings, but do it however you like it best.
While you are frying that burger, saute your favorite veggie toppings in another skillet. I used sliced onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Get some of your favorite cheese -- sliced or grated -- along with a few slices of pepperoni and the sauce.
When it's time to flip the burgers, then you can start piling on the goodies. Start with a generous amount of sauce. Spoon it out to the edges of the burger. Next add the veggies if you are adding those and top the whole shebang with a good layer of your favorite cheese. At the drive-in we used a pizza mix, but tonight I used a combination of Dubliner and American. Lastly, throw a few slices of pepperoni on top of the cheese and grab a lid and slap that over the pan so the cheese gets all melty and gooey.
If you're going to serve a bun with your burger, be sure to butter the flat side of each bun and toast them quickly in a pan before the burgers come out. We always, always toasted our buns at the drive-in.
When you think your burger is about done, go ahead and load them onto your toasted buns and serve with an extra side of warm marinara sauce. I'm telling you, Hubs and I didn't miss the bun one bit. I can't say this is a low-calorie meal, but it is high in satisfaction and deliciousness!