Deconstructing and Rebuilding the McGriddle, Jalapeno Style

The idea had been brewing in my mind for a very long time. If McDonald’s wasn’t going to revamp or create new flavors of the McGriddle, could I? The McGriddle has the quality of being both wonderful and vexing in that it is comprised almost completely of homemade ingredients, unless you just go there and order one.It seemed pointless to go out to the store and buy frozen pancakes, so my first step was deconstructing that element. After the pancake anomaly, I figured everything else would fall into place. Unfortunately, it was 10 at night and I’d already exhausted my supply of pre-frozen ‘Griddles and had no base model to fall back upon. Luckily, the texture and flavor had been ingrained in my mind, like a pancake-bun hybrid.My first step was to freeze my syrup in one thin layer. Of course, since this was a jalapeno McGriddle, I froze some jalapeno syrup. I then started with a basic pancake recipe that, when scaled down, imitated the nutrition facts for that of two McDonald’s McGriddle cakes, with 250 calories and 7 grams of fat. With 1/4 cup of flour having around 100 calories, I figured these were less flour heavy. But how could one then make the batter doughy enough to form into that characteristic sliced shape?My pancake recipe was fairly simple. 1/2 a cup of flour, 200 calories, 1 pat of melted butter, approximately 1/2 a tablespoon, 36 calories, and 1/2 an egg. I splashed a little milk in to get the desired consistency and cheated by adding a little salt and sugar for palatability. Without the water, the mixture was too dry to absorb the flour. Eventually, it tempered down to a nice, wet pancake mix. My prototype had 1/4 of a cup of milk in it. That turned out to be bad, because the pancakes (modeled in my miniature McGriddle rings) were not airy enough and were too dense and came out tough and gummy.Adding another 1/4 of a cup of milk made lighter, fluffier pancakes, but they ended up spreading out a lot. I tried to fix this by making an initial layer in the larger foil ring molds and then adding onto it little by little whenever I flipped. Bingo. Not only did this give me a chance to put some of my frozen syrup in to each layer, but it made the resulting layers fluffy and taller than I would have had with a normal pancake.I got to work with my other layers. If the pancakes were the only unknown here, the rest should have been easy. The sausage was the easiest component, as was the obvious plastic American cheese slice. I gussied up the sausage by mixing brown sugar and red chili flakes into the meat and swapped out the American cheese for its sassier, bolder cousin, Colby Jack. The eggs were another conundrum. An egg square with literally no crisp, crunch, or texture on it whatsoever could only mean one thing: I had to sous vide my eggs.
Making the eggs was simple. One egg mashed in a bag camp-fire style with a generous squeeze of salsa from the obvious source, then pressed to ensure all the air was taken out of the bag and that the eggs were in a flat layer. I’d already started boiling a pan of water on the stove, and when it came to a gentle boil, I laid my eggs in, reduced the heat to a simmer, and waited another 15 minutes. Simply cooking each component was taking more time than ordering, paying for, and eating a McGriddle!
The eggs cooked very well, but in the process of cooking, got layered unevenly. However, the indirect heat made them very fluffy and malleable for molding into a square. And with that final component, I began the assembly.
The first, more deformed pancake, custom-cut cheese slice with pickled jalapenos, and the dolled-up sausage patty…
The jalapeno egg square…And finally, the top pancake. It was tasty, but slightly disappointing. Even with the frozen syrup chunks embedded in each pancake, the sweet flavor completely dissolved in the batter and overall flavor of the sandwich. Was it delicious? You bet your sweet ass it was. If McDonald’s came out with a recipe that was both spicy and sweet for the McGriddle, it would knock America’s socks off. However, this was merely the first of many tries. I need to get back to figuring out those syrup balls…

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