Munch Madness 2015: White Castle burgers

Culinary adventurer Zack Brown dives into the weirdest-looking recipe of the year, White Castle burgers from A Thrifty Mom.

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SLIGHT CASTLE

THIS RECIPE… SUCKS

White Castle copycat: This recipe sucks

The thing about White Castle burgers is that you know you’ve eaten them once you’ve sobered up and feel the heartburn deep in your chest. Can a DIY-recipe replicate that experience? SHOULD it even dare?

When Kristina asked me to be a part of Munch Madness again this year, she gave the judges the option to pick from a number of different recipes. Just one look at this one from A Thrifty Mom, and I knew it would be a complete train wreck. Boy was I right.

White Castle copycat: Ingredients

These are the ingredients that are listed to make a white castle burger. This recipe is “BAKED IN THE OVEN – SO EASY”!!! Now I like to follow directions and I think I am capable of doing so, but I found myself staving off a neurotic breakdown when I noticed that the picture of the finished product has a %$^*king PICKLE and CHEESE on it. But I took a breath, centered myself, and carried on.

White Castle copycat: Meat goodness

Now to put all the burger ingredients together in a bowl. Except the salt. WHAT THE HELL DO I DO WITH THE SALT!?!?

White Castle copycat: Mix with what?

I’m just going to line up some items here that one COULD use to mix up these ingredients. But I guess I’ll just use my hands. Sure, why not?

White Castle copycat: Bastard onions

I see the point of having to have all the onions on the bottom so that the flavor cooks up through the meat as you bake them, but I would ask you to recall the last time you did a 500-piece puzzle on a tilted surface and tell me how you got that sorted out without some glue.

Did I mention that the recipe tells you to cut the onions AFTER you mix all the ingredients in the bowl? Sure, I like it when my raw eggs, meat and breadcrumbs to sunbathe for as long as it takes to tiny-size my onions. ARGHGHGH!

White Castle copycat: Holy mother

This is probably the secret that is supposed to make this recipe work. You ventilate the meat and have the onion flavor permeate the entire thing. I’m on board. I am sure there is some very important reason as to why I had to use three straws (see above) to make this happen.

White Castle copycat: Size matters

This is the problem with leaving what type of bread you use up to the reader. “Cut into squares the size of your rolls”. Ok cool, now I have all these mutant end pieces.

White Castle copycat: Bread-dy

Mostly ready to eat. Except that the bread doesn’t look anything like a White Castle burger and the meat doesn’t have the consistency of a patty. It came out like cheesy meatloaf. The cheese actually held the meat together better than the bread crumbs/egg did.

White Castle copycat: Enjoy

I’m not actually concerned about eating this thing, I just always look that way in selfies… anyway, I tried to smash the bun down to simulate the real thing better and I think it helped. It doesn’t look like the picture from the recipe and it sure as hell doesn’t look like a White Castle burger but there you have it.

COPY(S)CAT

This recipe produces something that ultimately tastes OK. It tastes like a meatloaf slider with cheese. It could desperately use some spice and some higher quality ingredients. If it wanted to be a White Castle burger, it would need to be juicier, thinner, and have the right type of bun.

Now I’m a project manager by trade, and the thing that comes to mind about what makes White Castle burgers what they are is six sigma. White Castle is such a phenomenon because it is the same thing every time. It’s reliable. It might objectively be terrible, but you know what type of terrible you’re getting yourself into. It leaves your mouth stinging of onions after you chew through the steamed sticky buns. It’s the kind of terrible that you need a morning-after pill for.

In the end, this recipe just doesn’t leave me with the sense of literal burning regret that I had high hopes for. Some things are better left to the experts, like ketchup and donuts (go look up how they’re made if you don’t believe me!). I think it’s time we add White Castle to that list.

Kristina Ackerman

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.