I know. I’m terrible at keeping promises. Due to work and well, the holidays, I’ve once again delayed on that Star Wars post. I was a good geek though, I finally saw The Force Awakens and loved the hell out of it. I’ll post an in-depth analysis another time with an accompanying recipe (probably closer to when Episode VIII comes out). Without revealing much more about it, I’ll say that it definitely made my inner child and English Major happier than a t-rex with a ukulele.
So for today’s recipe I’m actually going back to the dreaded prequels. In Episode II : Attack of the Clones we travel back to Coruscant – the galaxy’s multi-leveled capital city that spans every inch of the planet. While we are only privy to the Jedi Temple and the Imperial Senate in the first film, the second one takes a peek at its seedy underbelly of bounty hunters, nightclubs, assassins, and drug dealers bearing names of unfortunate creativity.
To navigate this wretched hive of scum and villainy, Obi Wan Kenobi consults with an old friend operating on the fringe of society: Dexter Jettster. Long retired from his colorful adventures through the galaxy, this multi-armed maven of the greasy spoon now runs a 1950’s style diner with a menu inspired by his travels. Most famous for its sliders and blue milkshakes, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy and then later regret at Dex’s Diner.
The film featured some food props, none of which looked all that appetizing. I was in luck, however. Gregory Walker, author of a number of secondary character backstories had penned and published the article “Dining at Dex’s” for Hyperspace, the official Star Wars fan club, in 2009. The article an extensive menu with descriptions of fun items such as:
Shawda Clubb Sandwich
This popular sandwich boasts sliced Manpha-fowl, nuna bacon, Revwien lettuce and topato. Served on toasted or therm-zapped pseudograin bread.
It doesn’t get any better than this–a massive, mouthwatering Alderaanian nerfsteak, cooked to order and smothered with melted jerba cheese, grilled Ojomian onions and Felucian glasscap mushrooms.
Our thick, creamy milkshakes are made the old-fashioned way, mixed by robotic appendage using Hoth-cold ice cream, blue milk and robo-fountain flavored syrups. I’m partial to the classic Blue Bantha, but we’ll make your milkshake any way you like it. With a meal or as a treat by itself, this old-time favorite is sure to please!
While obviously Dexter Jettster likes to serve the usual diner classics with the best non-locally sourced ingredients this side of the galaxy, I would still need to translate them into what is available in our galaxy. Frankly, you can find recipes for club sandwiches and country-fried steak anywhere on the internet. I wanted something that would look and taste interesting. Luckily, it was this particular dish that caught my eye:
Not for the faint of heart! This zesty slider features a patty topped with mouthwatering Zeltron pop-peppers, pink lettuce, magenta onions and spicy “pleasure planet” sauce.
Zeltros is a planet from the Star Wars expanded universe known for being essentially space Vegas. The magenta-skinned natives are about hedonism with a big fat capital H whether involving eating, drinking, gambling, or fooling around. I kind wish I was one since their super-fast metabolism and second liver allows them to eat and drink any rich and heart-attack inducing dish they please without the risks of death or obesity. Dexter Jettster at least gives us a taste of what it’s like to eat like a Zeltron with these sliders. Since the Zeltrons are all about indulging the senses, I aimed to create a flavor profile that blended together a little bit of every flavor – sweet, spicy, tart, bitter, salty and savory.
For the pop-peppers and pink lettuce I fire and oven roasted some red bell peppers and radicchio, and chopped them up into a slaw for a little bittersweet crunch to the mix.
Magenta onions were pretty easy to create. I pickled some red onion in red wine vinegar and spices for a sweet and briny punch.
Pleasure Planet Sauce was a bit of stretch to figure out since it has no other description than “spicy”. The other ingredients themselves were an inspiration, however. One of my favorite food trucks, The Pup Truck, serves what’s called the PBR Pup – a hot dog topped with pickled red onion, bacon jam, and pimento cheese. So what I decided to do was to add a few twists to the standard southern-style pimento cheese recipe by using horseradish mayo for some kick, and smoked paprika for a delicious bacon-like flavor.
The beauty of this recipe is that when you make up all the toppings ahead of time, serving up the sliders is a short-order affair. Also you will have topping leftovers in case you want to whip up another batch the following day — or there are a wide variety of other options. The pimento cheese sauce is AMAZING in mac and cheese (yes, even the kind with Star Wars shapes and comes in the blue box), grits, mashed potatoes, or even by itself as a dip.
Pickled red onions go great on sandwiches, salads, eggs, omelets. Their brine adds a nice sour note to salad dressings and soups (throw in a splash into my borscht recipe for a tasty kick). The pepper and cabbage slaw would be tasty tossed in some spaghetti with olive oil and parmesan, or even on top of a salad. We even mixed a little of each of the toppings with scrambled eggs and ham, wrapped them in a tortilla and cooked them up into some of the best breakfast burritos we’ve ever tasted. Think of this post as not just one recipe, but four for all sorts of crazy possibilities. Stay hungry, my friends!
Dex's Diner's Zeltros Sliders
To make the toppings:
Prepare at least 5 days before making sliders.
- Large red onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 10 peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 and 1/2 cups red wine or sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Slice onion thinly into half or quarter moons, place in a colander over the sink.
- Bring 4-5 cups of water to boil in a kettle or saucepan and pour over the onions. Let drain.
- While the onions are draining, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large jar, seal, and shake to dissolve.
- Put onions into jar and push down to submerge. Seal jar and refrigerate at least 5 days before using.
Zeltros Pleasure Pimento Cheese Sauce
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1/2 cup horseradish mayonnaise
- splash lemon juice
Combine spices, lemon juice, and mayo thoroughly. Incorporate cream cheese and pimentos and finally the cheddar cheese. When all is mixed together, put the lot into a seal-able container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Roasted Pop Pepper and Pink Lettuce Slaw
- 2 heads of radicchio
- 2 red bell peppers
- olive oil
- Char bell peppers on all sides with the flame on a gas burner or kitchen torch. Put each one into a paper bag and roll ends closed to allow to steam. When cooled, peel off the charred skin and discard. Remove the seeds and stems and dice flesh.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse radicchio and pat completely dry before quartering them and placing them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Brush a thin coat of olive oil on the wedges with a pastry brush and season with salt. Roast the radicchio in the oven up to 20 minutes or until there is a light char on the leaves.
- When the radicchio has cooled, chop it into ribbons and toss with the diced red pepper.
To make the sliders:
Makes 8 sliders
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8 yeast rolls
- cooking spray
- Form ground beef into eight small patties. Create a dimple in the center with your thumb and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper and let rest on a plate.
- Bring skillet to high heat on a stovetop. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Slice the rolls and place the cut sides on the skillet for about a minute to toast. Remove bread and set aside for later assembly.
- Cook beef patties to desired doneness on the skillet. Place each pattie on the bottom round of the rolls. Top with pepper-lettuce slaw, then the pimento cheese sauce, and finally a few magenta onions. Top the sliders with the roll tops and serve.