One of my favorite items on the menu at Laci’s Tapas Bar in Syracuse are the Spanish sliders. The geniuses in the kitchen make mini burgers with beef, piquillo peppers, caramelized onions, manchego cheese and garlic aioli. There’s a lot of stuff going on in these little guys, but no one flavor overwhelms. Everything plays well together. Harmoniously even.
I wanted to recreate something similar here, but in a full quarter-pound burger portion. My nearby Wegmans stopped carrying manchego, but the fine people from Buttercup Cheese (found on Saturdays at the CNY Regional Market) import manchego and package it for sale. Piquillo peppers are another story. I could not come up with a source for these locally, instead using piquante peppers (jarred and sold under the Peppadew label). Piquante and piquillo peppers are related, and share many of the same properties, so I adapted.
WHAT DIDN’T: I wish I had the time to make an aioli, but that fell by the wayside. Maybe next time.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “These are okay. What’s the red stuff?”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Absolutely.
By Jared Paventi
- 1/2 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
- 4 Peppadew piquante peppers, rinsed and chopped, or 2 to 3 piquillo peppers, seeded, stemmed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
- pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4-inch thick square slice of manchego cheese, cut into triangles
Clean your grill grates and preheat it to about 600 degrees.
Combine the beef, peppers and paprika in a mixing bowl. Using your fingers, breakup the saffron threads over the meat. Mix by hand, then form two equally-sized meatballs. Pack firmly by hand and flatten slightly.
Turn half of your grill burners off, setting the burgers on the hot side. Close the lid, cook 4 to 5 minutes and flip. Set the cheese on the burger and close the lid, letting the burgers cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted (manchego takes a while to melt).