A few weeks back, I got a message from my good friend David. There was no text. All it had was a photo of a box.
Here was my response:
“I’m going to shit my pants. Where are you?”
He replied, “Cermak Produce on North Ave. At least it’s reduced fat!”
I texted him back. I said, “It’s like staring at the face of God and realizing that He hates you.”
Then I drove right over and bought the very same box in the photo. I clearly have no impulse control. It’s why my life is both a resounding failure and an amazing success at the same time. I actually cancel out my own existence.
As you can see, these are Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers. According to the box, they are a “Beef Pattie Blended With Pizza Sauce.” They also have a cheese center. Apparently they’re also reduced fat. Thank God.
So last Saturday night, I decided to make these burgers in the best way I knew how. Alone, and drunk. Technically, I wasn’t alone, I guess. My cat Cricket was there (she’s always home), and my roommate Craig (of ABV Chicago podcast fame). And I guess I wasn’t drunk. So, I wasn’t alone and drunk. I lied.
I had a terrific master plan: I would sous-vide them with my new Anova Precision Cooker, which I got for the miraculous low price of $99 because I managed to get in on their Kickstarter campaign really early (this thing is sick, by the way). Then I would sear them. Then I would dip them into a “spaghetti sauce,” like the box recommended. Then, I’d add mozzarella, broil them, and shove them into my burger orifice.
For those of you who don’t know what a sous-vide machine is, this bad boy has a few different names like immersion circulator or water oven. This machine is placed in a vat of water (in my case, a stock pot), and it heats the water to a precise temperature – down to 1/10th of a degree. You put your food in a vacuum sealed bag and let the food cook gently until it comes to temp. The results are nothing short of spectacular. Eggs poach into silk, steaks come out a perfect medium rare, and angels sing whenever you use it. The angels mostly sing if you’re tripping on acid.
Here is one of the frozen patties. They weigh in at 2-2/3 ounce, which is actually pretty small. Most of them had a severe case of freezer burn, which is ideally the best scenario for gross meat, because who cares.For the spaghetti sauce, I looked through the grocery store for the most potentially disappointing tomato-based abomination I could find. Here we have Ragú brand Meat Creations Grilled Steak Flavor. Here is my review for this sauce: Don’t.I heated up the spaghetti sauce for the burger. Even though the instructions don’t say to heat up the sauce, I did it anyway, because I am a culinary genius.I placed my patties into my “vacuum bags,” aka shitty Ziploc bag knockoffs, and secured them with high-tensile technology (chip clips) to the side of the stock pot so they wouldn’t get stuck in my precious sous-vide machine. The directions said to heat them up until they reached 160° F, which is the temperature for well-done burgers. This was the 9843957983th bad sign. But to be fair, 160° is just over the mark where e. coli bacteria get annihilated, so that’s what the FDA says to cook your ground beef too so you don’t get severe diarrhea. At least the Supreme company likes to play it safe. Not like ol’ Dannis Ree.
Also, yes, I know my counter is a mess. I’m a 33 year old bachelor. Leave me alone.Here are the burgers. I kept them in there for like an hour. I’m real precise. They were already leaking some kind of cheese from their open pores. Reminds me of when I was a teenager.Nobody likes pale burgers, or self-loathing Asian men, so I figured I’d give these puppies a quick sear for some color. They were already rubbery as hell anyway so who gives a shit. I seared them on my oil-burned stainless steel pan.Next, the burgers took a dip in the Ragú brand Meat Creations Grilled Steak Flavor tomato sauce (again, don’t). After a taste of the sauce I genuinely felt sorry for them.To make things healthier, I added a slice of cheap-ass mozzarella cheese, because what can I say, I roll heavy. And what the fuck kind of pizza burgers are stuffed with American cheese? That’s messed up.After a quick trip into the broiler, these puppies actually looked…kind of good. You might not be able to polish a turd, but you sure can shellac it in a coating of toasted cheese.
Actually kinda pretty, right? I toasted the Martin’s Potato Rolls to give myself at least a little culinary dignity. Martin’s Potato Rolls are the best. If you find them at your local grocery store, buy them. They’re slightly sweet, squishy, and perfect for smallish burgers. Normally I like to dress my burgers up a bit, but you know, there’s plenty of beauty in simplicity, just like me.Here is the cross-section, so you clowns can see the cheese oozing out from the middle. I’m sure you were dying to see the surprise inside.
And of course – how did it taste?
The answer: Fucking gross. Sorry, Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers. I’m genuinely not trying to be a dick. They had this strange flavor, kind of a cross between burnt rubber mixed with oregano and tomato paste, with the texture of meatloaf compressed under a cinderblock. I was actually kind of stunned at how weird they were. Plus that meat-flavored spaghetti sauce? My God. The sauce has a really strange smoky taste to it, mixed with some kind of beef and yeast extract (yeast extract is an additive in foods to make them taste more savory) that ended up driving this whole atrocity right off a cliff. And the American cheese in the middle — it looked like good ol’ melty burger cheese, but it was strangely thin and flavorless. Two words that should not be used to describe most cheese products.
My life is a bottomless abyss.