Thursday, February 11, 2010
TBG Eats: The NEW Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger from Carl's Jr.
Current Weight: 166.8 lbs.
Grilled cheese sandwiches were the second thing I learned how to cook during my believe-it-or-not obese pre-teen years. For what it's worth, scrambled eggs were the first. I made these early meals in my mom's coal-black, cast-iron skillet – a cooking utensil that she bought three years before I was born and still uses to this day.*
* -- That's the short version of my mom's "cast-iron skillet" story. Her first-person account was forced upon anyone ever invited over to our house for as long as I lived with my parents. In her director's cut description, the skillet was the first item she purchased when she moved away from home. My mom somehow spun the skillet story as an uncomfortable metaphor for Black empowerment and the tumultuous early 1970s.
The making of a great grilled cheese sandwich isn't as simple as it seems.
As a 10-year-old culinary neophyte, I'd have killed for a lightly-read blog such as this one to advise me: white bread, not wheat; two slices of name-brand American cheese (no store-brand, no reduced fat); one soup-spoon scoop of Country Crock straight into a pre-heated (a tick above "medium" heat, but NOT "medium-hot" or "hot") skillet…then, another scoop o' buttery spread when it's time to cook the other side; and a small plate to sit atop the sandwich while it cooks in order to contain the heat and ensure an even browning.
The end result is crispy, buttery, the ooey AND the gooey. Sadly though, without my mom's skillet – and the residue of "old Black woman cooking juju" its absorbed over the years – my grilled cheese sandwiches only realize 95-98% of their full potential.
Carl's Jr. gets in on the old-school comfort food act with the introduction of their Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger: (from their website) charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef topped with crispy bacon, slices of melted Swiss and American cheese, and mayonnaise served on toasted sourdough bread.
I ordered the $4.49 "Six-Dollar Burger" version and was pleased to leave the drive-thru window with a bag that weighed about the same as a cinder block. The Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger looks good, as do most things sandwiched by sourdough and oozing cheese over beef and bacon. Aaaaaand, then there's the taste.
In the description above, you'll notice that Carl's Jr. doesn't disclose how many slices of cheese go into a Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger. Odd, since the company issued the usual self-serving fast food press release that trumpeted four slices of cheese. I'd understand if the about-face was intentional. Four slices of cheese is just two too many – for anything edible.
Every bite filled my mouth with the gloppy, gummy magma of melted fake cheese. Like a bad horror movie, the blob overwhelmed everything in its path. On my burger, a bit of the bacon's glorious saltiness survived the cheese slaughter, but the porcine remains were mostly unidentifiable.
Of course, I also fell victim to Carl's Jr.'s hit-or-miss meat quality. I've had their "Six Dollar Burgers" when they're hot and relatively juicy by fast food standards. I've also been served CJ's burgers that were cold and chalky. Let's just say, my burger was not hot and relatively juicy. And, where in the hell does the fast food industry procure its "sourdough" bread? The taste and texture is often a closer approximation to an especially yeasty English muffin.
Carl's Jr. has smothered my childhood memories with a processed cheese pillow.
Grade: 1 (out of 5) Calories: 990 Fat: 69g