Carrie and I hosted a microbrew dinner for the Shitheads this weekend, and as usual, we overloaded on food and drink. Everyone chipped in: Carrie made a fennel salad, beignets, and pie; Lou baked some pigs-in-blanket; Jim prepared choucroute garnie; and I made mini-burgers.

By the time we got to my sliders, everyone was bloated on beer and pork products, which tells you something about the quality of the food. Was I disappointed that no one was hungry for my mini masterpieces? Well, let me say it this way: I didn’t incinerate my index finger just to be ignored!

As you can see from the lovely picture above, I developed quite a blister while prepping my slider toppings. I must admit, I went a little crazy with options. I made Parmesan tuiles, shallot straws, caramelized onions, sauteed Thai mushrooms, crispy bacon, merguez sausage slices (when one species isn’t enough!), and the usual condiments. I even made this sort of Mediterranean combo with goat cheese mixed with dried cranberries and pistachio dust, topped with sliced Kalamata olives (which really emphasized the sweetness of the cheese spread).

My enthusiasm for the task, however, did not compensate for my lack of experience with deep frying.  Even with a thermometer, I had a hard time controlling the oil temperature, and, as a result, my delicate shallot rings were turning into blackened straws. Actually, they were more ash than ring. Until I got my fry temperature under control, I was so frustrated that I started to pick up those freshly charred ringlets to toss them in the waste can, only to discover that one still had a little too much oil clinging to it.

You know those stories about how dangerous hot oil is? They’re true.

Good thing we had a lot of beer.