Fast Food Perfection


I was shocked to discover this last week how many among my family, friends and colleagues have never had a McGriddle from McDonalds.  Here I was, innocently going through life assuming that everybody appreciated this lovely little concoction as much as I, only to find out that there are many who didn't even know what I was talking about.  And now, because of these conversations I've had (more on these conversations later) I feel a moral responsibility to inform the world about the unparalleled goodness that is a McDonalds McGriddle breakfast sandwich.

While the concept seems pretty simple (basically a McMuffin breakfast sandwich, but with pancakes instead of the muffin) the unexpected synergy that comes from the combination and the delight that you feel when you realize that the pancakes have maple syrup cooked right in makes for a fantastic experience.  Let's be honest, who doesn't love to eat a big pancake breakfast with bacon and eggs, especially when the syrup takes over your plate and sweetens everything up.  The McGriddle is sort of like the Turkey dinner gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (remember, Violet Beauregard turns into a blueberry in her haste to be the first to try it).  Anyway, the magical McGriddle is like a whole pancake breakfast wrapped up in a little sandwich.  You can get several combinations, but I am partial to the sausage, egg and cheese variety.

Now, back to my recent conversations.  I decided one morning as I drove to work enjoying some McGriddle goodness that I simply had to discover how to make a McGriddle myself.  I would eat them every morning if I could (and if my heart wouldn't explode within a couple months) but they aren't cheap, so I decided I would figure out how to make them at home.  I discussed this with the guys at work, and with Suzie to see if anybody had any insight to offer and to see if I was the only one who dreams about these little things.  Basically, those who had tried them love them and the rest of the world just doesn't know yet that they love them because they haven't tried them.  Unfortunately, nobody was able to offer any insight into how one might go about creating a McGriddle from scratch.  Furthermore, it turns out, there isn't a simple recipe to make them like you can find on Google for most restaurant yummies.  No, the McGriddle is apparently the result of years of painstaking scientific research.  That's's Science!!  It's not an easy thing to make a delicious little pancake that tastes like real maple syrup, but doesn't get your fingers all sticky and doesn't overwhelm the taste of everything else in the sandwich.  You can try adding syrup to the batter, but it changes the flavor and eventually, if you put too much, starts to make everything sticky and they won't cook right.  So McDs R&D department came up with some sort of wonderful maple syrup pellet that gets mixed into the batter to give it the flavor.  You can see them when you bite into it (they almost look like blueberries in fake blueberry muffin mix).  I eventually found a couple of websites with accounts of others who had tried to recreate a McGriddle at home.  The most successful attempts involved boiling down maple syrup until you get a sort of syrup candy which can be broken up into little bits and mixed into the batter.  I decided that I just had to try.

I have to say thank you so Suz, who let me experiment in our kitchen with A LOT of maple syrup over the last couple of weeks.  First I tried making my own maple syrup from scratch, but after many minutes of boiling and watching one of those candy thermometer thingies really closely, the whole potful of stuff instantly changed to a pot full of sugar.  It was really strange, and I'm sure it defied several known laws of physics and science (I hope Jason, the Chemical Engineer and pretty good cook, never reads this).  My next several attempts took the simpler route of boiling off-the-shelf pancake syrup down until it started turning candyish (somewhere between hard ball stage and soft crack stage for those of you who actually know something about baking).  After 4 or 5 tries, I ended up with a pretty good consistency that I was able to freeze and crunch up into tiny bits, but was still sort of soft and wouldn't be gritty and crunchy in the final pancake.

Last night I finally tried my first attempt at the whole shebang.  I mixed up some regular old bisquick pancake batter and mixed in a quarter cup of maple syrup and then added some of my wonderful syrup crystals.  I fried some eggs and bacon for filler and used your basic sliced/wrapped cheese that isn't really cheese.  I have to say, I was quite satisfied with the result.  It's obvious that I need to mix in a lot more of the crystals to get it just right, but the bites that did get some of the yummy little cooked in nuggets were really similar to the real thing.  I think I'll probably try again this week and, if all goes well, I'm thinking about making these for everybody when me and my siblings get together at a cabin in the woods at the end of the week.

So there you have my ode to the McGriddle and a first-hand account of my own quest to recreate the world's most underrated fast food menu item in my own home.  For those that have yet to experience McGriddle goodness, I strongly recommend you treat yourself this week and report back here with a comment about your experience (unless you're going to be one of those party poopers that says " was ok", in which case we'll know you're a liar and will have to publicly call you out on this blog).  And those of you who already know how amazing these things are, back me up here.

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