By Kent Whitaker
Have you ever eaten a shrunken head with melted Colby and Pepper Jack cheese? Who says that Halloween is just for handing out candy and popcorn balls to neighborhood kids? It’s time to toss in some fun foodie ideas that are well suited for the kitchen or grill. And, why not make it fun, kind of gross… and yet packed with flavor?
For any other article this recipe would simply be for a burger with some spicy seasoning, steamed onions, a tangy jalapeno mustard BBQ sauce and gherkin pickle wedges. For Halloween, this recipe transforms into something a bit more fun. Tell your family, or guests, you’re serving up Shrunken Head Sliders with tape worms, zombie sauce and alien fingers… with cheese!
Remember, you’re having fun and getting into the Halloween spirit, pun intended, but that’s no reason to forget about making a great tasting dish. I suggest that you make a blended burger for extra flavor. I suggest combining ground beef with ground Italian sausage. Or, ground turkey and black bean burgers. If you break up the beans your ground turkey will have a creepy purple tint to them – perfect for Halloween!
The “zombie sauce” mentioned above is one of my standard quick and easy “cheater junk sauces.” That’s where you have some sauce in the fridge and you add some extra “junk” to it for bonus flavor. For this I combined a mustard based barbecue sauce with a splash of honey and store bought chopped jalapenos. Use these recipe as a starting point for your creative ideas and have fun!
Easy Beef & Italian Sausage Burgers
1 pound lean ground beef, 80/20
1/2 pound Italian sausage, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the beef and ground Italian sausage in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Form into equally sized meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Next, flatten each ball while pinching one side into a thinner piece forming a skeleton head type of shape. Next, season each side with a light brushing of steak sauce and a few dashes of Cajun seasoning. Grill, bake or broil as you normally would. Use tiny slices of cheese for x’s representing stitched eyes and for the mouth. I used pepper jack. Serve hot on toasted slider buns covered in cheese with zombie sauce, steamed onion slices and gherkin pickle wedges. Serve open faced.
Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker is the former winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network barbecue contest. He’s a culinary writer and cookbook author – his newest title is Great American Grilling. He also writes about College football, the NFL and NASCAR for several media outlets. Look for him online at thedeckchef.com .