Moms get brunch, dads get barbecue. That is Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day in-a-nutshell, right? I’d say it’s presumptuous to assume all dads crave beer and burgers on their special day but then I think of my own papa and—duh!—that’s exactly what he wants. Why mess with it?
Unexpected personal touches can transform a cookie-cutter cookout into a thoughtful dad’s-day bash; just a few tweaks to show pops how much you love him, how well you know him, and how special he really is. For me that means two things: bacon + Swiss cheese!
My dad has never met a bacon–Swiss cheese burger he didn’t love. Doesn’t matter where we are—a barebones burger shack or a fancy gastropub with its own highly-curated cheeseburger combo—he’ll always ask the same thing, “Can I get that with Swiss cheese and some bacon, please?” I love it! And I’ve learned to crave the delicious topping-duo through years of osmosis, as well.
This Father’s Day, I’m going to surprise my papa with the Ultimate Bacon-Burger sliders. Lots of fancy restaurants are grinding up their own burger meat laced with heritage bacon. Très delicious but also (almost) impossible to recreate at home, especially if you’re as lazy as me. So I chop up cooked bacon I’ve crisped in a skillet and mix it into store-bought ground beef for a homespun take on the highbrow resto-trick!
Now here’s the thing: For most of you these easy sliders will be absolutely perfect and fabulous cooked on the grill. Lucky you! Since my tiny Brooklyn apartment doesn’t have any outdoor space, I cook these babies in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. Doesn’t matter. They’re totally delicious either way. Don’t you love a recipe that’ll work anywhere?
In terms of toppings, I serve these sliders with just ketchup—that’s how my dad likes it—which keeps my recipe at only 5 ingredients total! If you’re willing to splurge on a few extra items, add standards like lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced red onion. Want to get fancy? Try gourmet pickles, aioli and/or caramelized onions!
Here’s a tip: If you have the time and supplies, wrap sliders in parchment and tie with bakers’ twine. Instant upgrade! This small enhancement gives the patties such a polished look, plus it keeps everyone’s hands/food clean in a party setting. Once I wrapped ‘em all, I just arranged in a vintage baking pan I had in the cupboard and set it out on the table for grabbing!
Other little things you can do to dress up your cookout: Trade in flimsy paper plates for something better—I’m a sucker for anything from Chinet’s Classic White collection. Snag pretty paper napkins that compliment your color scheme, like these red gingham luncheon napkins I used on my table. And, of course, consider spotlighting the man-of-the-day on custom Photo Beer Labels or Coasters. I ordered these a few weeks ago and I cannot wait to see my dad’s reaction! Fingers crossed he loves ‘em as much as he loved bacon cheeseburgers. xox
THE ULTIMATE BACON-BURGER SLIDERS
1 (8-ounce) package bacon
2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
12 small slices good-quality Swiss or Gruyere cheese
12 slider buns
Ketchup, for serving
PANTRY STAPLES: Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Keep 1 to 2 tablespoons drippings in the skillet; discard the rest. Let bacon cool. Reserve a few strips for topping, then finely chop the rest.
2. Gently mix the ground beef, chopped bacon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until combined. Divide into 12 mounds; gently flatten and shape each mound into a patty and make an indent in the middle to keep your sliders from puffing up in the skillet!
3. Cook sliders in the skillet with drippings over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes. Flip, top each patty with 1 slice Swiss cheese and cook 1 to 2 more minutes. Transfer cheeseburgers to slider buns. Top with ketchup and reserved bacon, broken into pieces.