This is a two-parter! First, the Fresh Thyme Mayo was something I created back in 2011 for a TV show Ryan and I competed on for Food Network called Bobby’s Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago where three teams of two people cooked for Bobby Flay (he was in my kitchen!) and other judges for the title of Best Home Cook of Chicago. This Mayo was a huge hit and ultimately helped us win! Second, Ryan and I absolutely adore hotel bars — a favorite spot of ours is Gibson’s Chicago where Ryan orders the filet mignon sliders and a vodka martini (shaken, of course). I am always a bit envious since I have yet to come across a vegetarian version in any bar. But now I can re-create a similar atmosphere at home, vodka martini included!
INGREDIENTS (Makes 6 sliders)
Fresh Thyme mayo:
Mayonnaise – ¼ cup
Dijon Mustard – 1 teaspoon
Thyme – ½ teaspoon, finely minced, fresh
Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon
Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon, freshly squeezed
Sea Salt – 1/8 teaspoon
Black Pepper – 1/8 teaspoon, freshly cracked
Cannellini Beans –1 can (15 ounces), drained and rinsed
Basil – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh
Parsley – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh, Italian flat-leaf variety recommended
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided
Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted
Red Onion – 1 small, ¼-inch diced
Thyme – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh
Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh
Oregano – ¾ teaspoon, dried, lightly crushed
Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon
Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked
Red Pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced
Dried Bread Crumbs - ⅓ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, plain variety
Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten, at room temperature
Half and Half – 1 tablespoon
Parmesan Cheese – 3 tablespoons, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
Pretzel Slider Buns – 6, split
Gruyere Cheese – ¾ cup, freshly grated, for topping
Fresh Thyme Mayo:
Combine all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix until incorporated.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a small food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the drained beans, basil, and parsley. Pulse until the beans are almost smooth, but still have a bit of texture. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
In a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter. Once hot, add the red onions, thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally.
Next, add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Scrap the onion mixture and any remaining olive oil into the bean mixture. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, half n half, and Parmesan cheese to the same bowl. Using a fork, combine all of the ingredients being careful not to compact the mixture.
Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, form 6 balls by lightly rolling the mixture between the palms of your hands. Place each ball onto the prepared half sheet pan.
Bake for 10 minutes, then using a spatula, gently flatten each ball into a patty about 1 ½-inches thick. Then brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the split buns, cut side down, onto the same sheet pan to toast as the patties finish baking.
Return the half sheet pan to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Assemble each slider with as much grated Gruyere and Fresh Thyme Mayo as desired, and serve hot.
Tip: Aside from topping these with Gruyere cheese and my Fresh Thyme Mayo, they can be topped with caramelized onions and Roquefort cheese, Fontina and marinara sauce, or really almost any combination! Just remember, this recipe does have heavy Italian-inspired flavors, so make sure to play up on that!