Back in the 1950s, during my pre-teen years in Olean, New York, there was no such thing as a "fast food restaurant". We had our share of excellent full-service restaurants, but we also had several other establishments that I vaguely remember calling "drive-ins". Not drive-thru, but drive-in!
These drive-ins (as best I can remember) had no dine-in facilities. You ordered, paid for (in cash), and then received your food through a window open to the outside. Yes, most of them closed during the winter months!
I remember one drive-in particularly well. It was (and is; yep, the walk-up window is gone, but it's still in operation) located on the outskirts of town and served the most delicious hamburgers imaginable. It's called Red & Trudy's.
At Red & Trudy's, the hamburger meat is first cooked and seasoned as loose meat (not as patties). The loose meat is served on a buttered, salted, and then toasted bun. All four sides (surfaces) of the bun are toasted for extra goodness.
I never met Red or Trudy, and I certainly am not privy to their recipe or their techniques. Many, many years ago, however, I decided to create my version of theirs. I decided to start with sauteed onions, a little garlic, and, of course, the loose hamburger meat. I then butter and lightly salt the top of a standard hamburger bun, and toast the top and bottom halves in a toaster oven (to toast the four sides).
I doubt my version would pass muster in a true side-by-side test with the real Red & Trudy offering, but it still brings back wonderful memories.
Oh, I almost forgot. I call my version the Not-So-Sloppy Joe!
P.S. All credit for three of the new recipes listed here goes to Mario Batali, the world-renown Italian chef, restauranteur, and television star – the Bolognese Sauce, the Stuffed Acorn Squash, and the Risotto Milanese. This will not be the last time I mention Chef Batali. I have learned much from him.
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Hobby Chef Grandpa Joe has been practicing Italian-style cooking for over 60 years. He enjoys cooking, entertaining, and sharing culinary experiences with family and friends.
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