Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fast Food Review: Del Taco Big Fat Crispy Chicken Taco

Well, I knew this day would come. Not the day when I would eat at Del Taco; that's pretty much every Tuesday (and most Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays). But the day when I ran out of space on Blogger. After more than two years and 459 posts, I ran over my limit of free space. I considered shutting down for good, ending this experiment, possibly throwing my computer into the street and firing my gun into the air and shouting something dramatic in Latin. But I don't actually own a gun, nor do I know Latin (beyond a couple words that have no place on a family blog) so really I just intended to sit on the couch and bitch a lot, which is how I handle most adversity.

But then I found out I could purchase twenty times the amount of storage I currently have for only five dollars. That seemed a quite reasonable amount, and I like to help out fledgling, unknown businesses like Google, so I did it. 

So we're back in business.

On the scale of fast food chains' promotions, Del Taco is much closer to Popeyes (all of their promotions are good) than Carl's Jr. (all of their promotions are bad). I wish they would bring back the Sonora Chicken Burrito - although I admit it is probably better in my memory than it was in reality - but the ones they do come out with are usually quite good.

I'm not a fan of tacos served on thick shells, (some, like this one, are almost like pita bread), but I still decided try the Big Fat taco. You can order it with grilled or crispy chicken; I opted for the latter. You can also request "ranch sauce" or a "zesty ancho sauce." I am not a fan of ranch and I love ancho chiles, so that was an easy call.

I saw the girl behind the counter assembling what could only be my taco, and she squirted ranch sauce all over it. I pointed out that I had requested ancho. No big deal - the two names sounds alike, and English was not her first language, and she corrected the mistake with a smile. (That's all I ever ask for; you can poison my food and scald me with kitchen grease and as long as you're genuinely apologetic I probably won't get upset.)  She asked me if I would like the ranch one, too, since she was going to have to throw it out. I said sure.

The thing tastes about how it looks: if a fried piece of chicken with a slightly spicy sauce and inexpensive toppings sounds good to you, you're probably going to think this is good. If you think that's disgusting, I can't see any way you'd like this. My opinion? It wasn't terrible, and if you replicated this at home with high quality things, it would actually be very good. (My friend Tyler and I once had an idea of doing a dinner where we make homages to fast food, where everything is based on a fast food item but done with a gourmet twist. But, like my dream of playing small forward for the Lakers, that party idea fell by the wayside.)

Now, was it good? No, I would not go that far. I certainly will not try it again. But once again Del Taco has come out with a product that does not suck, and in the fast food world that puts them well ahead of the pack.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Baseball, Stuffed Flank Steak, and Baseball

When I think back on the greatly anticipated moments of my life, getting my drivers license is without question number one. But number two is a little harder to figure out. It wasn't turning 21; although I was certainly looking forward to it, it wasn't that big of a deal. Years ago my friends and I planned a New Orleans Jazz Fest trip more than half a year in advance. That trip is certainly a strong contender for the second spot on the list, as is Elizabeth's and my trip to New York two months ago.

As of this moment - and obviously I am writing in the moment - it would be hard to think of anything I have looked forward to as much as Ken Burns's sequel to his 1994 PBS series Baseball. I have written of baseball often here (let alone my other blog, called Barbecue & Baseball); there are only a handful of things I have loved continuously as long as I can remember. Baseball is one of them.

When the original aired in 1994 I was 16 years old. It was, literally, half a lifetime ago. Much has happened to the game and to me in that time. Closing my eyes and running through each year since '94, the events flickering slowly like a moviola, it is impressive but not surprising how baseball weaves its way into so many things.

There is the 1995 summer at Dodger Stadium, my brother and I watching Nomomania take hold. I'm not old enough to remember Fernandomania; this was as close as I'm likely to come.

Nomo again, the opening day of the '96 season. I had just returned from a trip to Europe the night before and I was exhausted, but my dad and his friend invited me and my brother to opening day. We skipped school to attend. I wore the shirt from that day until it fell apart.

Six months later, my second week at a college I did not like, sitting with a bunch of guys in the common room watching Nomo throw a no hitter at Coors Field, a previously unimaginable feat. If I had to think of a single good memory from that school year, that may well be it.

In 2001 my dad and I were at Dodger Stadium in a suite, having a beer before the game started. I went out to use the restroom. This was not long after September 11th and I was wearing one of those Dodgers hats with the LA script in the colors of the American flag. Who saw me in the hallway and complimented my hat? None other than Vin Scully. I was so flustered I did the only logical thing: I wandered into the women's restroom. 

In the spring of 2002 I was visiting my best friend in San Jose; we were on an afternoon pub crawl and met a die-hard Giants fan. "You guys are from Southern California?" he growled. "You're not fucking Dodgers fans, are you?" His voice hinted there might be violence if we answered affirmatively.

"Not really," I said, pointing to the Angels t-shirt I had on. "I'm an Angels fan first and foremost."

He pondered that for a few seconds. "That's cool," he said. "The Angels and Giants will never play each other in a meaningful game."

Six months later I sat in my favorite pub from those days, watching Game 7 of the World Series, the last Fall Classic to go seven games. The two teams? The Angels and Giants.

I cried when the Angels choked away a 3-1 playoff series lead in 1986. I punched a hole in the wall when they squandered a 10.5 game August lead in 1995. And now here they were in the World Series for the first time ever. They won that year, in no small part thanks to me.

In October of 2004 I was in Boston for the ALDS. The Red Sox beat the Angels (once again) but there was an indelible memory: I took a sightseeing tour around the city and at one point the trolley driver leaned his head out the window and asked an old lady - wearing a Red Sox cap, of course - "Is this the year?" She paused for a second, not misunderstanding the question (that October, everyone in Boston knew what that question meant), but genuinely contemplating it.

"You know," she said, "I think it is. I really think it is."

Three weeks later as I watched the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years, I thought of that woman. I loathe the Red Sox more than perhaps any other team in all of professional sports... but it is impossible to think of that lady and do anything but smile.

In 2005 I had the single best birthday of my life, watching the Dodgers and Giants play a Sunday afternoon game in Chavez Ravine with 10 of my best friends.

In 2006 I made my first pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium and watched the Angels beat the Yankees, never knowing that a couple years later I would fall in love with a girl who loves the Yankees as much as I love the Angels. In 2009 I watched the Angels, who had been terrible for most of my childhood, win their 5th division title in 6 years.

So Tuesday night, Baseball was back on PBS, the first of two parts celebrating the game that I love most. I was always better at basketball and the Lakers have certainly had amazing success in my life (they won their tenth title of my lifetime while I was 31 years-old) but baseball has always resounded more with me. In James Earl Jones's famous - if perhaps a tad mawkish - speech in Field of Dreams, he says "Baseball has marked the time." That is how I feel.

Or perhaps you prefer George Carlin's take on the beauty of baseball. 

At any rate, I knew I would be cooking dinner at home and watching this show for which I have been waiting more than a year. There was only one problem I could foresee: a new episode of Glee was also on. That has become Elizabeth's favorite show. I was pretty sure that she would let me watch Baseball on the big HDTV. But I wanted there to be no doubt. And that meant cooking a prime cut of steak for dinner.

So as usual I went by Taylor's Ol' Fashioned Meat Market in Sierra Madre. A relatively new item caught my eye: flank steak wrapped in a pinwheel and stuffed with Provolone cheese and spinach. Taylor's flank steak is perhaps my favorite in the San Gabriel Valley. Spinach: good. Cheese: good.

It was still too hot to grill it on the patio, so I took out the indoor grill, let it heat up for longer than was probably necessary, and placed the steak on, admiring the hiss for several seconds before covering it with an inverted wok. (I've found this helps cook more evenly, particularly with cuts thicker than an inch.)

Seven minutes on each side; I took it off and wrapped it in foil for a few minutes and bisected the hunk. I like my steak much more rare than Elizabeth does. So hers went back on the grill for a bit. I did not want to start eating without her so I simply sat my steak on the plate and gazed at it longingly. I could not wait to eat this steak.

Finally I was able to. This is one of the best steaks I have cooked in years. The prime, lean pieces of meat melted on the tongue like butter. The spinach had wilted and was a dense flavor and the cheese had melted into a sweet paste. The whole thing had weighed more than a pound and I thought surely that would be enough. Now I was wishing we had purchased two.

I often measure steaks by my own personal "A.1. meter." I love A.1. steak sauce and I will never hesitate to put it on a piece of meat if I feel the protein needs it. If I think about using A.1. but decide not to, you can be sure that it was one damn fine steak. But once in a while - not often, usually not even once a year, but every once in a great while - I come across a steak that I fully consume without even considering using steak sauce. (The last time it happened was my Santa Maria-grilled steak at the Hitching Post II - the steak which I called the best I have ever had.) I finished this flank steak without the thought of condiments crossing my mind.

Elizabeth agreed with me that it was a fantastic steak, and she happily let me watch on the big TV.

As usual, our steak-loving cat was begging for some, so we gave him a bite. He loved it, too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Once again I was over at my parents' house with the dual purpose of helping out with the work they are having done and watching the UCLA football game. I was charged, as usual, with coming up with the menu for lunch. I though Hmm, late September, football, the weather has turned autumnal... we will do Oktoberfest!

And then we had the hottest weekend of the year. Not the typical weather for me to wear lederhosen, so I had to stick with my 1996 Cade McNown jersey. (Although I admit that might be funnier than wearing lederhosen.) I had envisioned a nice, breezy fall day, working the grill and drinking cold beer. It was blisteringly hot. This has been one weird year. I do not remember a more mild summer. On 4th of July we had a small barbecue and our neighbor, Anne, actually put on a down vest to walk down the street and watch the Rose Bowl fireworks. And now that it's autumn? We get 107 degree days.

I mentioned my Oktoberfest plan to my mom; she loved it. I said I was going to get sausages at Schreiner's and she said she had never been, so I told her she had to come with me. I was only planning to cook bratwurst and knackwurst, but when she saw their collection of frozen sausages, her eyes lit up. She would have bought one of each flavor if I hadn't stopped her. (Well, by "stopped her" I mean saying "I think this is a good amount.")

We ended up with pork Italian, chicken with tomato and basil, chicken with lemon and cilantro, bratwurst, and knackwurst.

I wanted to get a traditional German potato salad but my mom didn't seem thrilled with that idea, so we compromised on a red potato salad with dill. It was more full of dill than anything I have ever eaten. I love dill so I was okay with this.

 Some spicy mustard in a beer stein-looking container.

I am not sure if "pub cheese" has any connection to Oktoberfest. But it was available at Schreiner's and very tasty. 

You know you're getting older when you see a non-alcoholic beer in the fridge and you think Wow, that sounds great, I can have a cold one and not get any buzz!

There are not many better things in life than a platter full of sausages and college football on TV.

I put a knackwurst on a roll and added sauerkraut, hot mustard, and red cabbage. After I ate that, I had a few pieces of bratwurst. And UCLA dominated Texas; it was their most impressive win in four years.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fast Food Review: Panda Express Kobari Beef

I will say one thing about Panda Express: they always leave you guessing. I'm not a huge fan of the place, and I do not eat there more than once or twice per year - basically whenever they come out with a new promotion - but I do not hate the place. I know some people do, and I certainly do not fault them for that: the sugary, fatty, been-sitting-in-a-steam-tray-for-God-knows-how-long foods that Panda sometimes serves can be terrible.

I cut Panda slack for two reasons. First, they gave me a lot of nice memories when I was a teenager. It was always a thrill when Panda provided lunch at my high school and I didn't have to eat a lousy chicken patty sandwich for the tenth time that month (or my backup lunch of nachos and gummi bears). My brother and I would sometimes stop by Panda on our way home and load up on orange chicken if we were in the mood for it. When I was 16 I ordered a beer at the Panda Express at the Glendale Galleria. I didn't even want the thing - I don't believe I'd ever had more than a sip of beer at that point - I just wanted to see if they would give it to me. Which they did, with no questions asked.

Second, some of the promotions Panda comes out with aren't have bad. The quality at different locations varies tremendously - more so than any fast food chain I have ever eaten at - but I have had orders of the Beijing Beef that almost rivaled Yujean Kang's crispy beef. (Emphasis on the "almost.") Their honey walnut shrimp, which I thought was going to be terrible, was actually crispy, high-quality shrimp.

So when I heard about Kobari Beef the other day - marinated beef with peppers, leeks and mushrooms in a "sweet, smoky, spicy sauce" - I decided it needed to be tried.

It doesn't look like there's very much beef in the picture. That's because there wasn't. The meat you do see, on the left side of the photo, is the orange chicken that made up the other half of my two-item combo. I found one decent-sized strip of beef that I was able to separate and photograph; all the other small pieces scattered throughout the veggies were smaller than a dime. I hope it's at least tasty, I thought to myself. 

It was as bland as could possibly be. I could not taste any of the three flavors they advertised. The beef wasn't bad, it was just... flavorless. I scooped up several pieces of veggies with sauce and a couple of the tiny pieces of beef and ate them in a huge bite, hoping a massive amount of food and sauce would provide some flavor. Nope. Nothing.

If the line at Panda Express hadn't been so long - there was an older couple holding everything up; they had some kind of coupon that apparently they thought entitled them to all the free food they could eat, or something like that - I would have gone up to the counter and said something about the quantity of beef and quality of the sauce. Maybe not a direct complaint, but a pointed "Is this supposed to have so little meat?" But I did not feel like waiting in that line a second time, and, one thing I've learned about this particular Panda Express, they don't really care what they're doing. (I had clearly stated to the server that we would be eating there; for some reason they put my food on a plate and Elizabeth's food in a styrofoam to-go box. They don't even listen to you.)

I am sure I will go back to Panda Express in a few months when they come out with a new item, but definitely not until then.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Bone-Sucking, Bacony, Browned Onion, Butter Lettuce, Blue Cheese Burger

There are times in life when nothing but a burger will do. Do you know the feeling? When it comes over me, when I don't just crave but need a burger, there are only two acceptable possibilities: Hutch's, and making my own burger.

Tuesday night I needed a burger. But going out was not an option: there was tremendous anticipation in our house for the season premier of Glee. (Of course, that anticipation was 100% Elizabeth. I was in the bedroom watching Ervin Santana throw one of the most impressive games of his career.)

So I got the ingredients for burgers at Taylor's in Sierra Madre. I will give you the rundown:

I caramelized a Vidalia onion. Vidalia onions are already sweet enough to eat when raw - I have read that the water and sugar content of a Vidalia onion is comparable to that of an apple; it certainly tastes that way - and when caramelized they are as sweet as candy. I am not sure if there is a better, less expensive condiment to add to a burger that can change the whole complexity of it.

Taylor's has thick slices of Amish bacon: meaty, fatty slices that compare to packaged slices of Oscar Meyer bacon in only the slightest of ways. I cook them in a pan at a relatively low heat so as not to burn them. (The slices are so thick that at too high a temperature the outsides will blacken while some of the meat will remain raw and fatty.) After several minutes - if I don't screw up - the bacon will be dark brown and crispy.

I formed two hunks of ground beef into elongated patties.

Did I cook them in the bacon grease? Yes. Yes, I did.

Elizabeth and I both love Bone Sucking Sweet Hot Mustard (although to be fair there are only one or two mustards I have ever tried that I did not love) so we usually have a jar of it in the house. It's a combination of brown sugar, molasses, paprika and jalapenos.

I spread some of the mustard on a roll and topped it with a large amout of the caramelized onions. On the other half I placed the patty and topped it with the bacon and some gouda cheese. Yes, I wrote blue cheese in the post title. I lied. I was going for alliteration.

I was so excited to photograph and then eat the burger that I forgot to add lettuce. My better half had to point it out to me.

I had wanted to melt the cheese on the burger, but it wasn't melting as fast as I expected. So I was left with a choice: melt the cheese and overcook the meat, or just eat it unmelted. An easy choice.

I added the lettuce to half the burger and took a picture of it. This was the best burger I have had in a long, long time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fast Food Review: El Pollo Loco Queso Crunch Burrito

I'm not a big fan of surprises. But sometimes they can be pretty cool.

I was sitting at home yesterday afternoon, trying to decide what I was going to make for dinner, when I got a text from my friend Troy, reading: "Want to have dinner tonight?" I was confused; Troy lives in Dallas. And he usually gives me a heads-up when he is going to be in town. I thought maybe he was texting the wrong person.

It turns out he had just gotten into town for a conference and he was able to get out of plans last night that he had previously thought were required of him. I jumped at the chance to hang out with him; he is one of my best friends from high school and ever since he moved a couple years ago I only get to see him once or twice per year.

We made plans to meet up in Old Town for some happy hour drinks at 5. I got a text from him on the way up to Pasadena, claiming that he wanted to either have good sushi, good Mexican food, or go to El Pollo Loco, which has long been a favorite of his. Over drinks we talked about what to do for dinner.

"Want to go to El Cholo?" he asked.

"I thought you wanted good Mexican food," I replied.

He explained that every Mexican restaurant he has been to in Dallas serves the same variation of every dish, all layered under a pool of greasy cheese and topped with a red sauce that defies description. He wouldn't even get into sushi; he just shook his head with a look that I've come to understand means "Don't get me started." (The look was repeated when I asked his thoughts on Lane Kiffin. Troy is the biggest USC football fan I know, raised on it literally from birth - he was not named Troy by accident.)

Now, Troy is prone to exaggeration when he gets fired up. Over the years he has described various USC football teams as "not being able to beat a junior high flag-football team," he has called Trader Joe's "the greatest invention ever," and he has called Woody Allen "the least funny human being in the history of the universe." (Actually, I agree with him on that last one.)

So I knew the culinary wasteland that he described in Dallas probably is not entirely accurate and his claim that you cannot get grilled chicken in the city is probably not true. But still, if that's what my friend wanted, that was fine with me.

"How about if we get El Pollo Loco and eat at my place?" I asked. "There is one three blocks from me and I know Elizabeth would love to see you."

"Yeah," he replied, "that actually sounds really good right now."

So a short while later I ordered an item I have been wanting to try for some time: the Queso Crunch Burrito. While I'm not the biggest fan of El Pollo Loco, the burritos they often come out with for promotions are usually really good. Years ago the "Fuego Grilled Burrito" - with chicken and "fuego chile orange sauce" was the best fast food burrito I have ever had. The Queso Crunch Burrito promised citrus-marinated chicken (although you can also order it with carne asada; I did not, as the place is not called El Carne Loco), jack cheese, poblano queso, crispy tortilla strips, salsa, and optional jalapenos, which, of course, I requested.

While waiting for the food Troy filled up no fewer than ten plastic containers with salsa and avocado sauce. It would have been an appropriate amount for three whole chickens, instead of the mere three pieces he ordered. He noticed me looking at him with amusement.

"You don't understand how much I miss this," he said.

"I think I do."

The food was ready in only a couple minutes - by far the shortest wait I have ever experienced at El Pollo Loco - and three minutes after that we were back at my place. Unwrapping the burrito, I immediately noticed it was smaller than advertised. (There is a print ad for it where a guy is holding the burrito in his hand and it appears larger than a two-liter bottle of soda. In actuality it's about the size of every fast food chain's burrito you have ever seen.)

But it was quite good. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, the tortilla strips were a welcome - if somewhat unnecessary - contrast of texture, and the cheese was plentiful. And, something for which I appreciate El Pollo Loco, the jalapenos were actually spicy. (Burger King and Carl's Jr. could take lessons.)

Would I get this burrito again? Probably not. It was almost six bucks - not an outrageous amount, although I can think of a dozen better burritos in Pasadena alone that cost less than that - and would not have been filling by itself. (But I'd gotten some fries and popcorn chicken for the three of us to share as well, which turned out to be a good thing.) I just don't go to El Pollo Loco very much these days, and when I do there is usually a new promotional item to try, so on my next visit I will probably just try whatever that may be.

Troy polished off his three pieces of chicken in impressive fashion then leaned back in his chair with a satisfied grin.

"You don't know how much I enjoyed that meal," he said.

"I think I do."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fast Food Review: Arby's Reuben Sandwich

The pastrami sandwich I had the other day at Langer's was, as I wrote, one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten. Sunday afternoon, Elizabeth and I were going for a drive, trying to come up with a lunch plan. I desperately wanted another of those pastrami sandwiches. But Langer's is closed on Sundays. So I suggested Arby's; Elizabeth loves their popcorn chicken and I figured I could try their Reuben sandwich for the first time and it would satisfy my pastrami/corned beef needs.

Raise your hand if you can already spot the flaw in my logic.

It took a few minutes to receive the sandwich. I sat it down on the table. "A mouthwatering corner deli classic," the wrapper read. Yeah, I thought. I'm sure that's what this will taste like. The first thing I noticed was that the bread was soggy. I doubted it would hold together long enough for me to finish the sandwich. (It would not.)

I can't really say that the pastrami was bad... but that's because I could not taste it at all. The only prevailing flavor was the sauerkraut, a mouth-puckering blast of sourness. Now, I love sauerkraut as a complement to food. But that's what it should be: a complement. When it's the dominant flavor, or, in this case, when it's the only flavor, I am disappointed. If that's all I wanted to taste I would save myself a few hundred calories and just eat a bowl of cabbage.

I pulled off a couple strands of the pastrami and ate them without any condiments. It still lacked flavor. Before I was done eating the sandwich, it mostly ended up in a few disintegrated lumps lying in the wrapper. But I didn't care. Soggy bread, bland pastrami, overpowering kraut... this sandwich was lousy.

Should I complain too much about the sandwich? Nah, probably not. Who orders something called a "market fresh sandwich" at a fast food joint anyway? But it does illustrate a point I make about value from time to time: it's not always synonymous with inexpensive. The Langer's sandwich may have been on the pricey side, at almost $15, but it was still a better value than this Arby's sandwich that cost one-third the price. I walked away from that Langer's lunch ecstatic. I walked away from this one thinking Why did I think this would be a good idea?

At least Elizabeth was nice enough to give me some of her popcorn chicken, which I liberally dunked in the Horsey sauce.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On White Castle, Leftover Chili, Fritos and College Football

Baseball is my favorite sport in and of itself. Basketball is my favorite sport to play. And, something even my best friends probably would never have guessed about me, the first sport I loved - and the first sport for which my name appeared in a newspaper headline - was actually soccer.

But there is not much I enjoy more in life than watching college football on autumn Saturdays. The colors of the uniforms are superb. The sound of a marching band striking up after a touchdown is the greatest sound in all of sports. And the names of the rivalry games are spectacular: the Border War, the Iron Bowl, the Civil War, the Red River Shootout, and The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

(Note: the latter two games are now referred to officially as the "Red River Rivalry" and the "Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic," victims of political correctness and complaints by the same assholes who always seem to appear whenever people are having fun. But at least gun violence in Texas and college students drinking beer in the South have been eradicated.)

So on Saturday afternoons (and mornings... and most evenings) during football season, I am usually on the couch watching games. In my teens I often went to games at the Rose Bowl with my dad, and a couple times I watched USC games from the sidelines thanks to a friend of mine. In my 20s I usually ended up at a bar to watch the games with friends. These days I've found that the couch and HDTV are my favorite way to go. These are not the days for elaborate ten-course tasting meals or long lunches on the patio. These are the days for meals that are quick, that can be eaten with one hand. If I don't have to look at the food, even better.

It just so happened we had plenty of leftover chili from the other evening. Leftover chili is right up there with tri tip and most pizzas as things-that-taste-better-a-day-or-two-later. But neither of us wanted to have straight bowls of chili again. We racked our brains. I had a thought: "How about if we make Frito pies?"

5 years ago I was in Santa Fe with my friends Dave and Min. We were on a road trip to Memphis for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and we'd stopped for the night. In the morning I went for a walk by myself, taking pictures in the historic Plaza, and I stumbled across the Five & Dime General Store. That name sounded very familiar, but this was before I had the internet on my phone, so I had to resort to a very antiquated concept: I went in and asked them a couple questions.

"I've heard of you before, but I can't remember why" I said to a woman who greeted me. She mentioned that they're famous for their Frito Pies. I knew that was it; I remembered a booklet I put together for my friends before we left and it included a picture of their Fritos pie. I ordered one.

It was outstanding, chili and onions poured into a bag of Fritos and places in a chili-shaped holder.

Fast forward five years. It was early evening, between the end of the USC game and the start of the UCLA game and Elizabeth and I were standing in an aisle at Ralph's, a bag of "chili and cheese" flavored Fritos in our hands, trying to decide what we wanted to accompany the Frito pie. One of us - I think it was me - suggested White Castle burgers. It turned out they were even on sale.

Back at home I spread out the Fritos onto a couple of plates, topped the piles with reheated chili, added a couple handfuls of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and some diced green onions. They were good as is and I would have been happy eating it that way, but I decided it would be even better on a White Castle burger. So after heating the sliders I lifted a bun off each and spooned a healthy amount of Frito pie onto them.

They were very good. Frozen White Castle burgers aren't really a meal; they always need at least one or two things to go with them. But they're actually a pretty decent snack. I would never serve them to guests or pretend like they're gourmet food, but topped with a delicious chili (and this leftover chili was indeed even better than it had been a couple days earlier - the flavors had melded together even more) they were great.