Burger King Breakfast Revisited

For those of you who haven’t seen the strange pied-piper-style ads, Burger King has a revitalized breakfast menu. In the fall, I had the chance to preview the new breakfast at a PR event in New York.  It was one of the few times I’ve reviewed fast food under the nose of the executive chef and the chief marketing officer of a company.  They had hired a trained wait staff, and I’m certain that the cooks in the back were on their best behavior.  Though the waiters brought out regular, old BK food, it felt too controlled.  I wanted to see what these things would be like in the field, so I set out to try it again.

Burger King Breakfast

At the PR event, my favorite new item was the Mini Blueberry Biscuit.  In my last review, I raved about them: fluffy, light, hot, and packed with blueberry.  In the store, though, they disappointed me, arriving much sweeter and harder than I remembered.  There was even some kind of sugary, brown substance that had oozed out of the blueberry.  I found the Blueberry flavor I remembered, but not the fluffy buttermilk taste.

On the first pass, I didn’t like the Burger King Breakfast Ciabatta either: uninteresting aioli, so-so ham, bad tomatoes.  In the store, I liked it more.  The peppery aioli, ham, and egg were all better than I remembered.  I found the ham at the PR event slimy and green, but the ham in-store was edible and not too salty.  The egg cake was fresh, and the cheese was well melted.  Thought the tomato was still gross and the bun still too chewy, it appeared they had worked out a few kinks.

The biggest surprise came from the Pancakes.  At the PR event, I found them chewy and overly sweet, saying, “you have to put effort into cutting them.”  In the store, I had a completely different experience.  They smelled amazing, filling my nose with buttermilk; They tasted even better: light and fluffy like a pancake should be.  I almost felt like I was back at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Cape May, NJ.  Though the syrup was good, I felt like these pancakes deserved real Vermont maple.  They’re much better than the McDisks you get at the Golden Arches.  They are still fairly sweet, and you can almost eat them without syrup, but these were 500% better than what I had at the PR event.  Did I mention they were fluffy?

Last up was the Breakfast Bowl.  During the controlled event, I decided that the eggs were the stars of the show because they tasted like real, buffet style scrambled eggs.  Again, they were delicious and almost runny.  The sausage came nice and thick, the potatoes tasted light and peppery, and I found large chunks of green pepper in the bowl, as opposed to pepper skins at the PR event.  I was impressed the first time, and more impressed the second time.

Overall, I’d say the new BK Breakfast was 100% better.  I walked away from the restaurant feeling very disappointed because my blueberry mini was bad. Later, as I looked back over my notes and comparing them with my old notes an article, I realized that I had a completely different experience in the field.  The BK breakfast is really good, despite the weird advertising campaign with the suburban pied-piper.  Kudos to BK for a brave new menu!

 

Photobucket: A Hodgepodge

I’m trying to post with regularity, but I drew a blank on ideas for this week.  So, I decided to do a photo-melange of odds and ends to whet your appetites.

Here are some empanadas I had while on vacation in Argentina.  Simple and fast, they’re dough pockets with different fillings.  These had beef filling inside.

Chicken Mole I had in Santa Fe, NM, last year.  Delicious.

This picture I took on the hood of my car for the Double Down Showdown.  To sum the post up, the Double Down is awesome because it’s ridiculous.  The Doublicious is lame because it’s just a chicken sandwich.

Here are Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pancake Sausage Bites.  They were actually kinda good.  On SeriousEats.com, I called them “Morning Corndogs.”

In the mood for Holiday Sides!

I like turkey… but other than cooking and seasoning the bird properly, let’s face it, it’s not too exciting.
No, it’s the side dishes that make the holiday meal interesting.  When else could I put bacon in the Brussels sprouts, sour cream in the potatoes or butter-toasted nuts in the rice?
By the way, if you are looking for a new turkey recipe, here are links to two of my favorites.  Some years we fire up the outdoor turkey fryer and use this recipe from the New York Times.
Other times, we stick to the traditional oven roasting method  and use this recipe:
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Balsamic- Braised Brussels Spouts with Bacon

This recipe is adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound small Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
1/4 pound bacon, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup lower sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl in the olive oil and butter and wait another minute.  Add the Brussels sprouts, and season them with 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Shake the pan, rolling the Brussels sprouts around to help them brown evenly.  After a few minutes, turn the heat to medium and cook another 3-4 minutes until the sprouts soften slightly.
     Add the diced bacon to the pan and cook a minute or two, until it starts to crisp.  Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook another minute or so, until they are translucent.  Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce by half.  Add the chicken stock and reduce to about 1/4 cup, stirring and shaking the pan often to glaze the sprouts.  If you start to run low on liquid before the sprouts are cooked, add a little water to the pan.  You want the Brussels sprouts to be tender yet still have a bit of a crunch to them.  Overcooked Brussels sprouts are the reason that a lot of folks think that they don’t like the vegetable. Serve immediately or transfer to a baking sheet to cool.
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Wild Rice and Toasted Pecan Pilaf

Here is a special rice pilaf that just seems perfect for a holiday meal.  This is from Gourmet Magazine, April 1993.

1 cup pecan halves, chopped coarse
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thin lengthwise
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1.4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups wild rice, (about 1 pound) rinsed well in several changes of water and drained
4 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small baking pan toss the pecans with the butter, the thyme and the salt until they are coated well and roast them in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, or until they are crisp and fragrant.

In a flameproof casserole, cook the onion and the bell pepper in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring for 5 minutes, or until they are just softened, and with a slotted spoon transfer them to a bowl.  Add the rice to the casserole and cook it, stirring constantly, for 1 minute,  Stir in the broth, heated to boiling, and salt and pepper to taste and bring the mixture to a boil.  Bake the mixture, covered in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes.  Stir in the onion mixture, bake the pilaf , covered, for 30 minutes more, or until the rice is tender and the broth has been absorbed, and stir in the pecans.  Serves 8.

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Nutmeg and Sour Cream



I love sweet potatoes but I don’t want them to taste like dessert,  which is why I love this recipe from Emeril Lagasse.

4 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4  pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rub the sweet potatoes with the oil and place in an ovenproof baking dish and roast potatoes until tender, about 1 hour, turning over after 30 minutes.  When potatoes are cooked, set aside to cool for 10 minutes.  Cut the potatoes in half and squeeze the potato pulp into a three quart saucepan.  Set the flame to medium low and mash gently until smooth with a potato masher.  Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, sour cream, and butter and fold together until thoroughly combined.  Remove from the heat and serve immediately, or keep warm , covered, until ready to serve.  Serves 4-6