Oh, these things are killer, all right...
By: Jimbo X
Folks, this is a project I've wanted to embark upon since I was 9-years-old.
Picture it: the year of our Lord 1993. Yes, the same year that gave us, among other pop cultural contributions, Jurassic Park, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the first wave of Crystal Pepsi. Lost in that fog of nostalgic commercial overload is Jason Goes To Hell, which - at the time - was touted as being the last Friday the 13th movie ever, like, seriously, we mean it for real this time, guys.
Now, in hindsight, I know it's pretty absurd to think that this throwaway genre film is any way worthy of the kind of retroactive remembrance that, say, the Waco siege or the L.A. riots or even other pop culture offerings like Schindler's List commands. But me being a second grader at the time, you don't care about really big, sociocultural matters of the sort. Rather, you want to focus on all of the sleazy entertainment your parents don't like, and next to Mortal Kombat, there was no bigger lunch room topic that fall than Jason Goes To Hell. Of course, us being the polite souls we were, we never could bring ourselves to state the full title of the movie. Believe it or not, even "hell" was considered an unutterable swear back then, so many a cafeteria conversations - in part to ward off the leering ears of overzealous teachers - revolved around the great cinematic foray "Jason Goes To Heck."
Of course, it being an R-rated movie, none of us saw it in theaters. Thankfully, it was a lot easier to catch restricted fare once it hit video stores, and there was certainly no greater VHS target come early '94 than that magical embossed cassette box featuring what appeared to be intestines popping out of Jason's eye holes. Although I had opportunities to see it, being the scaredy cat I was, I didn't actually get around to screening it until a year later - and by then, everyone else at school had given me a rundown of the spoilers, including the infamous "Freddy glove" grand finale.
While today considered one of, if not the absolute worst, entries in the Friday canon, I've always had a guilty admiration of the movie. Sure, a lot of Jason purists are still mighty pissed about the body hopping motif, but when it came to creepy crawly guts and gore, the movie did not disappoint. I mean, within the first ten minutes of the flick, we've already got Jason being blown to smithereens by an FBI task force and a coroner eating his still-beating heart, not to mention sequences later on where an old woman has her teeth literally knocked down her throat, a woman gets skewered with a metal post while riding her man cowgirl style and a dude melts into a puddle of bloody goop after French kissing a turd-looking snake demon into another man's mouth. But as memorable as those scenes were, every time I've thought about the movie over the last 20 years, my mind dwells to one thing, and one thing only ...
Yep, that's right, in a movie featuring both a dude being killed by vat of French fry grease and a scene where a guy manages to back flip his way out of a pair of handcuffs (I still say that shit is physically impossible), the thing that I most vividly recall about the film are those hamburgers. There was just something so perfect about Jason-shaped hamburger patties, and I absolutely LOVED the design. I especially loved how oval the facsimile of the mask was - really, a few more strategic pokes here and there and you could easily turn this sumbitch into a meaty representation of a grey alien's skull. The first time I saw those damn things on my cathode ray tube television, I just knew that, one day, I just had to make my own Jason burgers.
Well folks, that day - despite only taking a good 20-plus years - finally arrived. Now, for a food project like this, you just can't waltz on in to the kitchen and start cobbling shit together. Oh, no sir, you actually have to map out a detailed "call to action plan," and follow your blueprint to a tee. We ain't making your routine Betty Crocker Halloween treats here - we're making Jason Goddamn Voorhees: The Sandwich and as such, we better take the task at hand deathly serious.
Now, my first executive call involved the type of protein I'd be working with. Granted, it probably would have been easier to just go out and buy a pound of ground beef and mold the pink slime into a barely recognizable facsimile of Jason Voorhees' iconic mask like Play-Doh, but you know what kind of niche subgroup who enjoys themselves seem dainty, seasonally-appropriate gimmick edibles never get enough attention from comedy food bloggers out there like myself? That's right, the vegetarians, so I decided from the get-go that I would be using those frozen veggie-patties you find at Walmart right next to the ice cream dog treats that are pushed up against the usual Mayfield stuff so you're not even entirely sure the comestible isn't meant for consumption by people. But to balance out the universe/be a contrarian dick, I also chose to include mini-pepperonis in the design, as well. But hey: if you can find gluten-free, whole-range, organic, fair-trade faux tofu pepperoni out there, I say add it to whatever you damn well please.
The rest of our ingredient set list - ironically, not unlike the general premise of the Friday the 13th films - is fairly predictable. But before we hop into the step-by-step Jason burger manufacturing process, let's take a closer gander at what we're working with, why don't we?
- Boca Veggie Protein Burger Patties - Although, as stated above, feel free to use real dead cow if it suits you.
- Hormel Pepperoni Minis - Because their smaller circumference will help us out plenty when it comes time to decorate our patties.
- Great Value Deli Style Sliced Non-Smoked Provolone Cheese - Vouch for the more expensive brand name stuff if you like, but whatever you do, make sure your cheese comes in a prefab circular mold and is at least as white as your average Bernie Sanders supporter. (Also, this is extraordinarily symbolic, seeing as how our burgers - not unlike Jason's cinematic forays - need to be quite cheesy.)
- Wonder Bread Classic Hamburger Buns - Initially, I thought about opting for one of the ritzier, more expensive hamburger bun varieties - you know, the really fancy ones with sesame seeds and shit all over them. But then, I started thinking: "Wait a minute, the Jason movies aren't ritzy or fancy, they're super formulaic and tasteless as shit," and with that in mind, how could I vouch for anything other than Wonder Bread?
- Kraft Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce - Because how can anything involving Jason not entail lots of copious red goo all over the place?
- GEM Extra Virgin Olive Oil - On one hand, you need it to keep your patties from sticking to the pan, and furthermore, it gives your burger a really nice, smoky taste and texture. But also, it's canonical: after all, it's the virginal girl who always puts Jason down for the count, right?
And now, howza'bout we start turning those ingredients into action, folks?
Coat your pan with the extra-virgin olive oil and dump in your patties
Well, this one is pretty cut-and-dry. Obviously, you're going to need a spatula, a fork or some other non-meltable flipping implement. I recommend pan-frying two burgers at a time, but if you want to cook up half a dozen at once and you feel as if you have the culinary chops to micro-manage six faux-burgers simultaneously, I say go for it. As far as additional spices or ingredients, I suppose it wouldn't kill you if you sauteed some onions or mushrooms in the mix or added a pinch of curry or red pepper, but staying true to the roots of the Friday the 13th franchise, I'd recommend keeping your burgers as bland and formulaic as possible. Now, you may have noticed a really big butcher knife in the animated GIF. above. Wondering what role that plays in our Jason burger-building process? Well, I'm glad you asked...
"Decorate" your cheese slices
This one takes some artistry, no doubts about it. If you and a buddy are tag-teaming this recipe, I'd strongly advise that one of you works wholly on eyeing the burgers so they don't get too crispy while the other breaks out the cutting implement and goes to town on the dairy products. Still, if you fancy yourself a renaissance man of the kitchen, feel free to engage in both activities at the same time. While it's not technically hard making the Jason cheese masks (really, all you have to do is make a series of strategic pokings here and there), it nonetheless takes some pretty focused manual dexterity in order to get the mask carvings just right. As you can see from the images above, the one on the left - which I took my sweet time with - came out looking pretty respectable, with the one on the right - which I rushed through because my patties were starting to stick - ended up looking about as FUBARed as Jason in the toxic waste bath at the end of Friday the 13th Part XIII.
Toast your buns, hon.
It just dawned on me: by making a Jason burger, you pretty much are engaged in the same hyper-violent behaviors as The Man Behind the Mask himself - cutting stuff, boiling shit in hot fluids, and now - electrifying the hell out of things. If you haven't figured out how a toaster works by now, I'm not entirely sure what I can do to help you ... about anything in this world, really. Alas, if you live in a part of the world where such consumer goods remain scant or unaffordable, I suppose you can also lightly toast your buns in a regular oven, or failing that, leaving them out in the sun for a couple of hours.
Carefully assemble your final burger.
Time, to a certain extent, is definitely working against you here. You really only have a couple of minutes to piece together your creation before the cheese circles completely melt atop the patty, so before you slap that sliver of dairy product atop your veggie patty, I'd strongly advise you to have your mini-pepperonis prepped and ready to go. There's no wrong way, I suppose, to decorate your creation, although I've always been fond of the old three point "triangle" mask design. Feel free to get more creative if you want (shit, why not give Jason horrible pepperoni acne, if you're a fan of Italian meats) but I am not bullshitting you about the cheese - seriously, give it 120 seconds and the thing has practically molecularly bonded to the patty, Eddie Brock-and-Venom-costume-style.
And voila, here's the COMPLETED project! All in all, I am quite happy with the way the final burger came out. I mean, at first glance you're not entirely sure it's supposed to be an edible representation of Jason Voorhees, but as soon as the suggestion creeps into your brain you're not able to unsee the resemblance. But you know, for a facsimile of Jason Voorhees, it sure does look conspicuously devoid of spatter, don't it? Aye, that means there is one last thing we have to do before chowing down...
Of course, this being an ode to the Friday the 13th mythos, can we really call it a proper Jason tribute without spraying a whole bunch of red stuff everywhere? Sure, you could splash some ketchup all over the dish and call it good, but this is a tribute to Jason, man. You've got to do something different, and what's a more fitting comestible to adorn our creation than some sweet, succulent BBQ sauce? The smoky and spicy stuff works well enough, I suppose, but I'd recommend a sauce containing brown sugar - you know, something that gives the burger a tart, super sticky, ultra-filling kick. Really, it's the perfect way to top off your Voorhees-Burger; it's gooey and it drips all over the place and the starchy corn-syrup flavor kind of overwhelms everything else, just like the inherently corny atmosphere in every Jason movie. And as for the overall gustatory quality of the dish before us? Well - not unlike the original Friday the 13th series - it's greasy, it's a little slimy, there are big old pustules of red stuff everywhere and frankly, you kind of have to wonder about the health defects if you keep consuming it on a regular basis. But also like the beloved Jason filmography? As crappy as this burger may be, it's also undeniably delicious and extraordinarily satisfying, even though you want to believe your palate is more refined.