The first thing to consider is the difference between onions in the Bigmac and the Quarter Pounder. The Bigmac has very small finely diced white onions. The quarter pounder with cheese has slivers of white onions about 1 inch in length. This is crucial. To recreate the exact flavor of McDonald's food you'll need to follow these steps very carefully. Trust me the flavor will be the same but it will be so much better.
If you want to make a quarter pounder start off with the slivered onions that are shown in the top right of the above photo. The bottom left shows the finely diced onions used for double cheeseburgers, cheeseburgers and Bigmacs.
I press out my burgers with a burger press ONLY when I am making homemade fast food. Check out this page to get information on how to make homemade fast food patties. These burgers are simple to grill. Medium heat for a short amount of time. They'll be done in no time! After your burgers are done, sprinkle some salt and pepper on them. Then toast your buns. You have to toast your buns. McDonalds used to have a specific station for toasting buns back in the 90s when my friends and I worked there. I don't think they do this anymore. What a mistake. Toss the buns directly over the coals for about 30 seconds. It may take a little longer if your heat is low.
After the burgers are grilled and the bun is toasted head inside for the assembly process. Take a toasted bun and place four squirts of mustard equally spaced out on top. Picture a square and aim for a "dot" of mustard at each of the corners. Then put four squirts of ketchup in between the mustard squirts. Then drop some slivers of onions on top and put two pickles in the middle. Don't mess this up! Do it just as I describe. This is how it's done in the McDonald's kitchens and is crucial to recreate the flavor. Actually, at McDonalds there was a large ketchup and mustard dispenser that automatically placed 4 squirts of ketchup and mustard on the bun. All we had to do was pull a little trigger.
Lay a slice of cheddar cheese on top, then lay down the burger. Lastly, position another piece of cheese so that the corner of the cheese points towards the flat side of the other slice of cheese, as shown below. You may laugh, but this is how we were "supposed" to make these burgers back when I worked at McDonalds in 1995-1996. Put the bottom bun on top and flip everything over. Don't start eating just yet! The most important step is next.
Take your quarter pounders and put them in the queuing oven. What!? You don't have a queuing oven at home? Sure you do. It's called a microwave. Back in the mid 90's McDonalds had a policy of microwaving every single sandwich. However, it would probably be a PR disaster if everyone knew that the food was microwaved. Rather, it was eloquently "queued" in a "queuing oven." Whatever that means. So put your quarter pounders in the microwave for about 30-35 seconds. The point here is to soften the bun, warm the toppings and melt the cheese. This step is absolutely crucial. It brings the sandwich together. Trust me.
Oh look at this! The magic of microwaving the burger is that you can leave the freshly assembled burgers sitting out in the kitchen while you tend to the fries. Once the shoestring fries are cooked and salted you can put the burgers in the microwave. 30 seconds later you have a meal! Tell me that doesn't look better than anything you can get at the actual restaurant. The people who came up with these recipes were brilliant. The only missing piece of their plan was the workers. While I can't speak for all 15 and 16 year old McDonald's employees I can tell you what my friends and I thought about food quality when we were 15-16. We didn't care at all. If you make it at home you'll be much happier.
The recipe for homemade Bigmac sauce is here as well as assembly instructions for making a Bigmac. My buddy and I just recently did this again and I took a bunch more photos so I'll put them below.
Back when I worked at McDonalds we would make six Bigmacs at a time. What a messy sandwich for a 16 year old to make. We'd have lettuce and onions everywhere. You'd think I would be neater now that I'm grown up with a "real job" but I still have that sloppy McDonalds mentality when I'm making these!
Four Bigmacs waiting for the "queuing oven!" Notice how the cheese isn't melted. If you were to eat these right at this step you'd have a cold toasted bun with room temperature toppings and burger. No. No. Warm it up!
I learned that it's very difficult to get a good photo of food in a microwave, I mean "queuing oven."
Oh look at this. This is what the inventor of the Bigmac had in mind when he came up with this recipe. Everything is fresh and warm. I do switch out the recommended American cheese with cheddar cheese. I find American cheese just awful. Bigmacs are one of our favorite tailgate recipes. My buddy and I pull it off each year and have so much fun reminiscing about our old food service days. I think we were paid $4.25 an hour back then! In case you're wondering, my love of food really didn't begin back when I worked at McDonalds. After high school and college I was more interested in science (i.e., nerd) and meeting girls (which was hard because of the former). Only after I met the lovely Mrs. Grilling24x7 when I was in graduate school did I appreciate the finer details of cooking. But you never know. Maybe making thousands of Bigmacs at the age of 16 set the seed for the creation of this grilling blog!
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By John Thomas
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