Sunday, August 22, 2010

White Castle

 White Castle home of the "slyder". A food of myth and legend. Drunks, stoners, and yours truly, crave these tasty little burgers.

 White Castle was started in 1921 and is the oldest fast food franchise in existence. They are known for there small cheap hamburgers. A White Castle burger in the 1940s cost you 5 cents, today 61 cents.
The little burgers are very unique in their taste, and the process used to cook them. A layer of onions is placed on the grill, and small frozen beef patties with holes are placed on top of the onions.  The buns are then placed on top of the burgers. The steam from the onions cooks the burgers and infuses the buns with flavor. No flipping is needed as the burger patties are so thin that the steam is able to seep through the holes in the patty and cook it all the way through. Here is a video that details the whole process (and for the love of god please turn down the volume, unless you want to hear a bluegrass version of Feel Like Making Love by Bad Company).

 Everything is setup for maximum efficiency. The reason the patties are square is so that you can fit 30 of them on a standard white castle flat top grill. The result is a single cook can put out about 30 burgers every 4 minutes. This efficiency was not needed when I visited White Castle, as the restaurant was empty beside me and my traveling companions.
   On the way home from a road trip to Cleveland me and my companions stopped by to get a sack of burgers for future eating. The great, or not so great thing (depending on your perspective) about White Castle is that you can hardly tell the difference between a fresh burger, and one that you nuked in the microwave. We put in an order for a sack of 12 cheeseburgers. As a side note, the White Castle we visited also served Church's Chicken. Its all the rage in fast food these days to combine two franchises into one store. So far I have seen KFC/Taco Bell, A&W/Long John Silvers, and now White Castle/Church's. After about a 5 minute wait, our sack of burgers was ready and we were on are way back to Pittsburgh..

 How do they taste, you ask? Like a very soft/mushy/cheesy /oniony little hamburger. The onions are by far the overriding flavor, so if your not a big fan of onions don't even bother. It only takes about 4 bites to polish off 1 burger.

By the way, a sack of White Castles will smell up your car like no other fast food in the world. You could Febreeze your car every day for the next two months, and still smell onions.
 So why do I enjoy a White Castle burger? Its more the novelty then anything else I guess. There really is nothing else like it out there besides some small diner type joints in New Jersey such as White Mana, that specialize in small oniony burgers.
 White Castle burgers are versatile as well. With people coming up with some very interesting recipes that incorporate the tiny burgers. Some of my favorites include:

White Castle Turkey Stuffing

10 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
3/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10- to 12-pound turkey). Note: Allow 1 hamburger for each pound of turkey, which will be the equivalent of 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound.

Castle Balls

For the meatballs:
10 White Castle® hamburgers
1 medium onion
2 pounds of ground beef
2 eggs
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground pepper
1/2 tbsp. of onion powder

For the sauce:
2-10.75 oz cans Cream of Mushroom soup
5 packets of White Castle Dusseldorf Mustard
2 tbsp. of ketchup
1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

Chop onion in a food processor until fine. Sauté on medium heat until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Drain using a strainer. Chop all 10 burgers in a food processor until fine. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground burgers and sautéed onion with the remaining meatball ingredients, mixing well with your hands. Let mixture set covered in refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Spray baking dish or cookie sheet with a light coating of vegetable spray. Shape the meat mixture into balls by rolling a small amount into your hands until smooth. Meatballs should be slightly smaller than a golf ball. Bake meatballs in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Meatballs should be browned on both sides. Remove the balls from the pan and strain with a colander.

Sauce may be prepared while meatballs are cooking. Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat on stove at medium heat, until thoroughly heated. Pour over the cooked meatballs. Serve immediately, or refrigerate the sauce-covered meatballs overnight and heat the following day in a slow-cooker

 No picture available do to the fact im not sure anyone has ever really made meatballs out of White Castles.

 The largest denomination of White Castles you can purchase is the 30 burger Crave Case.
 As you can see the Crave Case makes an excellent briefcase for work after you eat all those tasty burgers.
  Think of the envious stares you will get from your co-workers as they eye up your stylish case.

White Castle Burgers are also available in the freezer section of most grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area. If you live in Pittsburgh this is your only real option besides driving to North East Ohio. For some reason White Castle has franchises in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio, but sidestepped Pennsylvania.

 WARNING: Frozen White Castle Burgers do not come with the dill pickle that is placed on the burgers at the restaurants. While technology has put a man on the moon, it has not progressed to the point where we can put a pickle on a frozen burger.

 WARNING II:  Do to the onion content of White Castle burgers, methane gas buildup in the stomach is inevitable. Smelly flatulence and indigestion usually follows any White Castle consumption within 4 hours. They have the nickname belly bombs for a good reason

So while I enjoy the tasty little burgers, I think I will keep to eating them once, or maybe twice per year. Any more then that and the novelty would wear off ,and  I would probably wind up exploding. 

 7/10 (While eating)
 2/10 (4 hours later)
 White Castle
5095 Northfield Rd.
Bedford Hts. Ohio 44146
(216) 587-1949

White Castle/Churchs Chicken on Urbanspoon


  1. Could you let me know which grocery stores sell frozen White Castle burgers? I also live in Pittsburgh but I could not find those in Giant Eagle. Thank you.

  2. You can get White Castles at most Giant Eagles, Super Walmart and at Sams Club, in the freezer section.

  3. dont't waste your money....frozen white castles are horrible....go with fresh ....or don't go at all...

    Lee in Columbus...HQ of WC's