#2. Outback Bloomin' Onion
The Outback Bloomin' Onion is the McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese of sit-down-restaurant menu items. Its status as the most calorie-packed way to take in vegetables is the stuff of artery-clogging legend. That Outback sells it as an appetizer instead of an entree to be shared by a family of four or more borders on involuntary manslaughter. All of this would be just cause for swearing off the Bloomin' Onion forevermore if not for one little hitch -- it is unspeakably delicious.
The Biggest Hassle of Making It:
On top of being life-threateningly tasty, the Bloomin' Onion is also kind of neat to look at ...
... which makes for a perfect segue into the most difficult thing about making one. How do you cut the onion? The Food Network comes through with the recipe this time around, and they also have a handy slideshow that walks you through the process.
And it is a process.
It's worth mentioning that a few comments I've seen online from former Outback employees suggest that, before you do anything, soak the entire onion in water first to make the cutting easier. That didn't seem like crazy advice to me, so I did it. I can't really say either way if it actually made the onion easier to work with on account of the fact that I've never made a Bloomin' Onion before. I have no references to work with here.
Oh -- I suppose that, since the recipe literally calls for a gallon of cooking oil, safety might be a concern for some. If you're under the age of 18, make your parents cook it for you. It's still their job, for now.
Yeah, I mean, unless you start a grease fire or completely mangle measuring out the spices or something, there's no reason for this to be anything other than a rousing success. It's a deep-fried onion. This one doesn't look particularly great, but historically speaking, deep-fried onions are always delicious. When things go awry, it's usually a matter of bland batter. Seeing as how this recipe calls for more spices than I actually had in my kitchen at the time, that's definitely not a problem here.
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Nothing a small business loan won't cover.
Outback Bloomin' Onions kill millions of people every year (citation needed), but we eat them anyway, and it's not because they're laden with nicotine. Whether you're making it at home or eating it in a traditional Australian eatery like Outback, it's going to be delicious, unless something goes terribly wrong.
#1. A.1. Steak Sauce
Listen, I know it's not technically a fast food item, but I don't care, because A.1. Steak Sauce is the greatest condiment of all time, so it's welcome anywhere. Sure, it tastes disgusting on anything that isn't made of beef, but that's a good thing. For the price you pay, it would probably save you a few bucks to just pour pure gasoline on everything you eat.
Still tastes better than Worcestershire sauce.
It's worth every penny, though. A.1. is one of those rare products that, much like Kraft Singles, would never be mistaken for one of their lesser competitors in a blind taste test. A.1. is A.1., and everything else is just steak sauce. Its importance to a steak dinner is such that their slogan is "A.1. It's how steak is done."
A lack of modesty you can taste.
Former NBA legend Chris Webber got kicked out of a steakhouse once after becoming enraged when they told him they didn't offer A.1. It's essential eating.
So, with that combination of indispensability and exorbitant cost in mind, why not take a shot at making a batch of A.1. sauce at home?
The Biggest Hassle of Making It:
Well, because "expensive" and "unable to afford" are two totally different things. A lot of people who are more than capable of cleaning their own home still hire someone to come in and do it every week, you know?
That said, it is surprisingly easy to make. The recipe I used is from a site called Two Dogs in the Kitchen, which would make a great restaurant name if frequent surprise visits from the health department are something you're into.
Anyway, while the ingredients list required to pull off a batch of homemade A.1. is kind of extensive and pricey ...
Finally, a reason to use those golden raisins you accidentally bought six years ago!
... I imagine it ends up being cheaper in the long run if your actual goal is to replace store-bought A.1. with homegrown. I'm not personally willing to contribute to anything that might lead to A.1. being less readily available than it is now, though, so that's not a switch I'll be making anytime soon.
Still, "He makes A.1. sauce from scratch" is a line that would be right at home in any Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercial, so even if you don't need to do it for financial reasons, I'd suggest that any dude reading this take a stab at it anyway, if for no other reason than to have it on your resume.
I'm not going to lie; I was not expecting much here. There are so many steak sauces out there, and every single one that isn't A.1. tastes like ass. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that even the varieties of A.1. that aren't just A.1. can be included in that blanket dismissal.
The real A-1 is ashamed to be seen with them.
All that said, this isn't bad. I'm not going to suggest that you should stop buying the real thing and just make this instead. Again, that's a shit-ton of work that someone in a factory somewhere would much rather be paid to do for you. Still, this did turn out fairly close to the real thing.
Making A.1. sauce from scratch isn't something I'll be adding to my usual list of weekly tasks anytime soon, but it's good to know I now possess a skill that will make me indispensable to my group of fellow survivors should I ever find myself in a post-apocalyptic survival scenario of some sort.
Adam would like it a whole lot if you'd download the latest episode of his podcast and/or check out this video of him telling a bunch of jokes. Then come see him do that in person the first and third Tuesday of every month at Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. Once you have all of that out of your system, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.