Here we go! The Pop Culture Kitchen is officially launched, and I believe this burger is the perfect way to start off. Remember, in addition to weekly recipes from pop culture cookbooks, I’ll also be cooking a burger from the Bob’s Burgers daily specials board. I’ll be going through the show chronologically, picking one burger from each episode to re-create. Quite fittingly, the first burger special is the “New Baconings Burger.” Perfect.
Let’s start out with the series as a whole.
I adore Bob’s Burgers. Yes, it’s a simply drawn cartoon, but it’s a fantastic cartoon. The long-suffering Bob Belcher, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin (also the voice of Archer), tries his best to take care of his family and his burger restaurant, neither of which ever calmly goes according to his plans. His restaurant is continually teetering between profit and loss (and utter destruction), and his employees (his family) are never a great deal of help.
The wife kids are weird in the most endearing and annoying ways, and I hope my family ends up just like them. I kind of want to be Linda. Well, I kind of want to be Louise, too. One is an eternal optimist who is grounded in reality. The other boldly lives her life according to her own unique plans, and she can’t be bothered by naysayers. Tina is so awkwardly pubescent in a very real way that the whole family seems to cringe at and celebrate at the same time. And Gene, prepubescent and enamored with fart sounds, is just as annoying as boys his age are supposed to be.
Season 1, Episode 1, “Human Flesh,” depicts the grand re-re-opening of Bob’s Burgers. What caused the place to close predates the series, but we can gather from the opening credits that Bob’s has suffered from both fire and infestation in the past. (This is not at all surprising after a few episodes.) In any case, in honor of the occasion, Bob dubs the daily special the “New Baconings Burger—comes with Bacon.” Louise deems this to be lame, and sneakily changes the special to “The Child Molester—Comes with Candy.” She has also further complicated things for Bob by telling her class at school that their burgers are made with human flesh from the mortuary next door. Gene drops and re-trays the samples he’s handing out, which causes the health inspectors to pay a visit, and the cannibalism story is subsequently made known. One of the inspectors, coincidentally, is the former fiancé of Linda, and because he is still jealous of Bob, he makes the inspection process as painful as possible. To top things off, Bob has forgotten his and Linda’s anniversary. A grand re-re-opening, indeed.
This episode clearly establishes each character. Bob encounters trouble, which is exacerbated by his family, and does his best to keep things going. Louise tries to spice up life a bit with cannibalism and child molester jokes. Gene uses his megaphone to interrupt his father with fart noises and inappropriately solicits his free samples to mourners at the mortuary. Tina overshares about her itchy crotch. And Linda perpetually believes that Bob has a special anniversary surprise for her, but takes it fairly well when the best he can do is take her on the Ferris Wheel and demonstrate his improved kissing skills. When I first saw this episode I felt a little anxious because of how much the characters talk over each other and ignore what Bob is saying. Like, how does he deal with all of that? But I eventually just learned to enjoy the chaos because this is how the family works. And I’m sort of learning that you have to embrace chaos when you have kids. Granted I’ve only got one who is only a year old, but I’m learning.
Now for the burger of the day.
As with most daily specials at Bob’s Burgers, there is very little description of the burger, just a punny name and sometimes a very brief indication of what the burger comes with. In this one, all we get is “comes with bacon,” so I’m winging it from there.
We’re just coming off the holidays and the terrible, terrible eating habits that we fully embraced while hanging out with family, so I’m trying to lighten this meal up a bit. Hence, this burger is going on a salad rather than a bun. But the key is still bacon, so, you know, balance in all things.
I started by making a bacon weave, which the internet tells me is the prime way to eat bacon on a burger. You interlock the slices, then bake it at 400°, and when you cut it into quarters, you get a perfect layer of bacon that won’t slip off of your burger.
Now, this is perfect evidence of my brain not always working on top speed. The bacon weave is ideal for a burger on a bun; what I was making was definitely not on a bun. Bacon is infinitely easier to eat on a salad when it is chopped into large chunks and sprinkled around. But I somehow conflated the bun and salad methods and ended up with a fairly pretty little bacon nest, but one that I had to cut up before I could eat.
In any case, while the bacon weave was cooking, I shaped quarter-pound patties out of 85% ground chuck (making sure to put a dimple in the middle because of plumping while cooking), sprinkled each with salt and pepper, and tossed those bad boys on the grill pan over medium heat.
After one side was sufficiently browned (I definitely didn’t time this, sorry), I flipped ‘em and cheesed ‘em, using half a slice of sharp cheddar-jack, torn to size, on each.
When I assumed they were cooked through (again, I didn’t time it, but I’ll do better in the future), I pulled them off the heat and set them aside to rest while I cut the cooked and drained bacon weave into quarters.
Finally, I assembled the salads. They’re really very simple: bagged 50/50 spinach and spring mix, topped with bacon, then the burger, cheese, and a dollop of Head Country barbecue sauce (nectar of the gods), then all topped off with a bit of light ranch dressing. I could have added some more veggies, but why complicate things?
It was delicious. As I said, the bacon and beef both had to be cut, but that’s not such a big deal, right? In all, a success. And I did it all with a rather cranky baby wandering around. Great success!
So begins my cooking/blogging adventure. It’s a bit awkward so far, trying to take decent pictures while I’m cooking, but I’m going to assume this gets easier with practice, right? I mean, lots of people do it, so I’ll eventually get it figured out. As I said, I hope to produce two posts per week, but god knows life will sneak in and throw me off from time to time, so let’s just roll with it. Let me know what you think.