Baby Brown Burger (an homage to Wallace Station)

Kaiser roll, mornay sauce, ham, tomato, bacon, juicy beef burger.

I have a good friend who is pretty much obsessed with Triple-D, otherwise known as Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Guy Fieri’s laid-back, investigative tour of America’s hidden casual eateries. I enjoy the show occasionally as well, being totally fascinated by American foods, especially those surprising variations of common foods that are only consumed in the bizarre backwaters of American byways.

Although I find Guy’s borderline-douchey persona occasionally grating (spiky bleached hair, armbands, 90’s goatee, bad jokes) his enthusiasm for his low-brow subject matter is infectious and I really do love a lot of the grub he’s unearthed for our tasty viewing pleasure. I’ve discovered a few gems on the show, including the pork adobado at Gloria’s Cafe right here in Culver City. I’ve knocked off a few recipes from the show, including a killer fried grouper sandwich from this place in Maine (I think). Last year I made a pretty damn tasty steak and cheese empanada that I originally saw on DDD. And who can forget the beef sandwich made with Coke-marinated flank steak on a ciabatta roll with arugula and horseradish cream!

Although I envy the man his job (Traveling around eating for a living? Sign me up!) I don’t always envy what he has to do, what lies he has to tell. For every one enticing meal that surprises with a local chef’s unsung talents, Guy has to choke down dozens of dubious plates of grey chicken fried steak or greasy chili fries. Watching the show it’s become easy to spot when Guy is excited about the food (“Wow, man, that was off-the-chain! You got it goin’ ON!”) or when he’s excited about getting out of that tiny kitchen with the greasy chef making yet another Chicken Kebab (“Good work. You’re really puttin’ it out there, aren’t you? Where’s the back door?”).

My friend K got excited when she saw a rerun of an episode from a couple of years ago, where Guy went to Wallace Station in Versailles, Kentucky, a place I’m unlikely ever to go. Guy was not only enthusiastic about this casual eatery and it’s homey food, he was practically gushing! He raved about their Big Brown Burger, a riff on Kentucky’s own specialty, The Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich drowned in Mornay sauce. Watching the chef knead her homemade bread and finish the burger in a sizzling cloud of worcestershire spatter made me seriously consider booking a flight to Louisville. The rest of the food looked great, the homemade bread tasty, but the Big Brown Burger looked utterly delicious — gooey, beefy, and big.

So yesterday I made a batch of Brown Burgers, but I made them smaller and more manageable. And so the Baby Brown Burger came to pass…and it was good. Better than good, it was excellent! Mornay sauce made from Vermont White Cheddar cheese, a soft small kaiser roll split and toasted on the griddle, a beefy burger cooked with worchestershire, a slice of tomato, a warm slice of ham, and crispy bacon. It was a meat-lover’s dream.

And K loved it!

This link shows the clip of Wallace Station from the show:
http://www.flavortownusa.com/wallace-station.aspx

Recipe for the mornay sauce:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/white-cheddar-mornay-recipe4/index.html

Wallace Station’s website:
http://www.wallacestation.com/Wallace_Station_Deli_and_Bakery/Home.html

I also made a knockoff of their pimento-cheese & ham panini. It came out pretty damn good too, but I’ll need to tweak it before I post it.

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