Sexy Sliders with Fancy Sauce and Cola Onions

These are as voluptuous and sexy as burgers get. They have a personalized ground meat mix with three kinds of beef, plus bacon and extra beef fat. You don't need a meat grinder, as the partially frozen meat is chopped in a food processor. Searing the burgers in a smoking hot pan gives them that flavorful crust that you just don't get from grilling over coals. And a specially made, "fancy" sauce like this one is never a bad idea.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: Makes 12 (2-inch) sliders, 4 to 6 servings
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Slider Patties:

6 ounces boneless short ribs

7 ounces boneless ribeye steak (preferably aged prime)

9 ounces boneless beef chuck

2 ounces beef fat trimmed from ribeye steak

1 1/2 ounces sliced double-smoked bacon, preferably Neuske's

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fancy Sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon finely chopped cornichons

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

Cola-Braised Onions:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium white onion, cut into half-moons about 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup cola soda (not diet)

Kosher salt

Additional Ingredients:

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 slices American cheese, each cut into quarters to make 12 pieces total

3 leaves Bibb lettuce, each torn into quarters to make 12 pieces total

12 brioche or potato dinner rolls, split


Special equipment:
12 cocktail skewers, for serving
  1. To make the patties: Cut the short ribs, ribeye, chuck, the fat from the ribeye, and bacon into 1-inch chunks. Toss together on a baking sheet and freeze until partially frozen, 1 to 2 hours. In three or four batches, pulse all the meat and fat in a food processor until the mixture is finely ground but not a paste. Transfer the ground meats to a medium bowl, season with the salt and pepper, and mix gently. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and shape into patties about 2 inches wide. Alternatively, you can use a ring mold to shape the patties. (The patties can be covered and refrigerated for up to 6 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.)
  2. To make the sauce: Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined. (The sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  3. To braise the onions: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cola, bring to a boil, and cook until the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and cover the skillet with its lid to keep the onions warm. (The onions can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Reheat the onions in the skillet before using.)
  4. To cook the burgers: Lightly season the patties all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large griddle or two large skillets over medium-high heat. Cook the patties on the griddle until the undersides are well browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until the other sides are browned, about 3 minutes for medium-rare (the patties will feel somewhat soft and barely beginning to firm when pressed on top with a fingertip). During the last 30 seconds of cooking, top each patty with a cheese quarter. Remove from the griddle.
  5. To build each slider, place a lettuce quarter on a roll bottom, then add a patty, about 1 tablespoon each of the onions and sauce, and the roll top. Spear each slider with a skewer (if desired), transfer to a platter, and serve immediately.
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