Though less of a household word than the similar-sounding Louisville Slugger, the St. Louis Slinger is a game changer in its own right.
No one knows who first concocted my hometown breakfast favorite, a mouth-watering hash of potatoes, hamburger patty, chili, egg, cheese, and onion. Like so many multi-ingredient meals, a slinger tastes best if someone else prepares it and cleans the many dishes. That may be why I had never made a slinger until my annual craving occurred months before my next trip to St. Louis. I was pleased to realize that with a little prep work, there was not as much clean-up as I anticipated. Of course, there were a lot of dishes to wash!
With no alternative to making a slinger for myself, I realized that a homemade version would be better than any variation available at a diner. I would choose the perfect ingredients and preparations. That meant hash browns, not home fries; grass-fed beef; a farm-fresh egg; my favorite brand of chili, since the weather was too warm to make a batch; freshly shredded cheddar cheese; and diced onions. No diner would offer these options. And I got to decide how to cook the egg.
Because a slinger is made from common ingredients, acquiring them is no problem. Well, almost no problem. I prefer Steak ‘n Shake chili, which not sold in stores near my Philadelphia-area home. The minimum online purchase was six cans at a cost of $6 per can. More than I cared to spend. Another brand would do.
After sliding four seasoned burger patties into the oven, I began the prep work for the other ingredients. Burgers which are not thick are best, because the flavor of the beef should not overwhelm the forkful of deliciousness.
I thawed a half-cup of hash browns in the microwave. After multiple checks determined that the burgers were nearly ready, the hash browns went into a hot skillet and were soon well on their way to crispiness. With potatoes sizzling away, I heated one-third of a cup of chili in the microwave, diced a small amount of onion, and shredded cheddar. A sunny-side up egg, my preferred style, was the finishing touch.
Given that this was my first attempt to make a slinger, I was pleased that all hot ingredients were hot at assembly time. Crispy hash browns went into the bowl. Burger and egg followed. To prevent the yolk from breaking, I poured the chili in a most gentle manner. Finally, onion and shredded cheddar topped off my creation. Green and red onions are equally tasty additions to this dish, so use what you have. This is, after all, casual breakfast fare.
How good is this dish? Wonderful! When I told my college business students about the slinger and asked how they would price it as a menu item, they suggested $25. In truth, the half-order size I made cost about $10. My slinger hit the spot, and my students were right on the money!
P. S. Feel free to add a couple pieces of bacon. Bacon makes everything better.