Big Mac Throwdown


Last weekend during our outing to Little Goat Diner, Hannah ordered the All-American Burger – complete with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun.  Everyone at the table tried it and loved it, so I decided to surprise them with a version we could enjoy at home.  I started by Googling “Big Mac Special Sauce,” and there it was – the original recipe.   But gack!  It was pre-bottled, sugary, preservative-laden stuff.  Consequently, I set about making a healthier version (and by healthier I do not mean low-fat, simply not so processed) that would still taste like the real deal.

My homemade version of a Big Mac.

My trip to the store was somewhat amusing because, I have to be honest, I was a little embarrassed to put iceberg lettuce in my cart.  Seriously, when was the last time you bought iceberg? 1995?  Not to mention American cheese!  But with potential comments about inauthenticity looming in my mind, I did what any semi-rational/semi-ridiculous woman would do – I put the lettuce and cheese in the cart and buried them under oranges and bananas so no one but the check-out guy would see them.  (I even felt compelled to explain to the check-out guy that I was trying to replicate a Big Mac so he wouldn’t be all judgy over my vitamin deficient lettuce.  What is wrong with me?!)

Anyway, back to the burgers.  I am thrilled to tell you that they received rave reviews and I even had requests for the leftover Special Sauce (recipe below) to be used on turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day.  It probably didn’t hurt that I served the burgers with whipped cream-laden strawberry milkshakes and that I didn’t try to sneak veggies onto their plates save for the fries (which are loaded with potassium, are they not?).


Homemade Big Macs with Special Sauce

serves 4

For burgers:

  • 1 pound ground chuck, gently formed into four patties
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into shreds
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, finely minced
  • 4 sesame seed buns
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • jarred pickle slices

For sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Veganaise or Miracle Whip (I used Veganaise and it is worth seeking out  – in the refrigerated section)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (I used Wickles)
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallot or use 2 teaspoons of the onion you minced for burger topping
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper
  1. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together.
  2. Season the formed beef patties with salt and pepper and grill or pan fry to desired doneness.  Melt cheese on burgers in last minute of cooking.
  3. Assemble and enjoy!

Recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante.  Original Big Mac sauce recipe here.

Sunday Brunch at Little Goat

It is just as amazing as you imagined.  Stephanie Izard, Top Chef champion and genius behind Girl and the Goat, has nailed it again with Little Goat Diner in Chicago.  She’s so good that when you eat anything she has created, you think, “I thought I knew what great tasted like, but I was so wrong.  THIS is great!”.  And you are sad for a minute because you know she has ruined you, but your plate of heaven quickly distracts you from this miserable thought.

Little Goat 1 blogClockwise, from top left: (1) Husband to the rescue with lattes from adjoining Little Goat Bread.  (2) Kids loved the rotating goat sign.  (3) Smoked Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs.  Trust me when I say no hash will ever compare to this.  (4) Waiting for our table with mini-me.  (5) Hannah’s Smoked Pork and Toffee Crunch Milkshake.  Yes, you read that correctly.  (6) A glimpse of the inventive comfort food menu.

Little Goat 2 blogClockwise, from top left: (1) The best 14-year-old on the planet, our son Will.  (2) Chicago el tracks and blue sky.  (3) Leftover hash.  We had to save room for dessert!  (4) Clever check-holding magnet board and the remains of a warm butterscotch caramel-topped banana gelato sundae.  (5)  I wasn’t kidding.  (6) Tempting treats to go at Little Goat Bread.

all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Little Goat Diner: 820 West Randolph Street, Chicago, 60607.  Sadly, no reservations.  Open breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night.  Click this link for hours.