An Okay Burger from an Okay Joint
McDonald's Cheesy Jalapeño Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese
It's been a long time since I last had a Quarter Pounder from McDonald's. I used to get them a lot when I was much younger, being easily swayed by the idea that a bigger burger was obviously better. But then, in college, I got onto a kick of grabbing the two cheeseburgers meal instead of the larger Quarter Pounder. I actually enjoyed being able to mix and match various smaller sandwiches from the restaurant, especially when they had to McRib Jr. on the menu. That, plus a cheeseburger and a Cajun McChicken were my go-tos when I had a craving on a lunch break in college. The Quarter Pounder was left on the wayside for me at that point.
However, I was swayed to come back and try the sandwich again when the chain put out the special limited edition Cheesy Jalapeño Bacon Quarter Pounder. It has spicy peppers right on the burger. It was getting good reviews from various food blogs. Naturally, when something like that comes around, a food review is required, and so I trudged over to the local Mickey D's earlier today to grab myself one of these burgers and see what all the spicy pepper fuss was about.
And it was fine. Just fine. It's a McDonald's burger, so you basically already know what you're getting from the sandwich. It does what it says on the label: gives you a Quarter Pounder with some special ingredients on it. End of the day, though, it's still just a Quarter Pounder, and no amount of bacon or cheese or peppers is really going to change that. If you like Quarter Pounders and maybe want something with a slightly different vibe to it, then this Cheesy version could be good for you. But if, like me, you aren't really an eater of the Quarter Pounders anymore, this burger won't really sway you back into the fold.
The basics of the Cheesy Jalapeño Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese are about what you're expecting. It's a standard Quarter Pounder patty (which apparently are made with fresh beef now, although I could hardly tell the difference between this and a normal McDonald's patty), and you can get it as a single or a double. They then top that with a American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, jalapeño coins, and a dab of cheese sauce. No ketchup, mustard, onions, or pickles. So it does have a slightly different flavor than their standard issue burger, just from those minor changes.
The changes do feel pretty minor, though, all things considered. To start, the jalapeños are barely noticeable at all. I detected a crunch from them when I bit into one (of note, there all of four pepper coins on my whole burger, which isn't much at all) but I was hard pressed to detect any spice from them. I could have gotten that same pickled crunch from an actual pickle, and it might have had more flavor. I get that McDonald's isn't going to serve really spicy food, but when jalapeños are promised on a burger I expect to taste them.
The "cheesy" part of the sandwich comes from not just the American cheese but also the cheese sauce dab. Now, when O call it a dab I do mean that. I found my sauce as a single dollop in the middle of the burger, not spread out at all. I chose to spread it out myself, with my finger, to really get that flavor around, and I will admit it was nice. It was a salty cheese sauce that added warm, flavorful notes to the burger. But, with that said, I shouldn't have to do construction on my sandwich Had I eaten it, as designed, I wouldn't have gotten that warm flavor throughout the burger. I would have bit into it near the middle, and then probably been grossed out by a huge glob of half-congealed cheese. That's not right.
Meanwhile, the bacon on the burger was just kind of there. It wasn't really crispy (although it at least wasn't underdone), probably because there were enough wet ingredients on the burger to ruin the whatever crisp the bacon might have had. It's salty bacon, but that comes on a salty burger with salty cheese sauce, so I hardly tasted the bacon at all. Now, if I hadn't spread out the cheese sauce the bacon flavor might have been more prevalent, but that just takes us to another issue: if I didn't spread out the cheese sauce, this would be a very dry burger. A patty with bacon strips, plasticy American cheese, and a bun is too dry on its own. This burger needs more sauce.
It's interesting to complain about a lack of sauce on a McDonald's burger when the company went out of its way a couple of months ago to say, "hey, we're improving our burgers and adding more sauce." Maybe they are on other sandwiches, but this burger needed all the saucy love it could get. It was severely lacking guys, and my DIY only helped it out so far.
You know what really could have helped the flavor: pickles and onions. Instead of jalapeños from the blandest jar of peppers ever, Mickey D's should have gone with a solid hot pickle instead. a couple of large pickle slices with some real heat to them would have made this burger spicier while also adding much needed moisture. I wouldn't call it the dried burger I've ever eaten (because I spread the cheese sauce around on my own) but someone biting in without knowing to do a little TLC on their sandie could get a very dry bite and be disappointed.
Honestly, disappointment is the key word for this sandwich. It has potential, especially if the ingredients were tweaked around a bit, but as currently constructed it just doesn't bring enough of the goods to really be a winner. more sauce, more heat, and more flair could take a middling special edition burger and make it great. Or maybe the company needs to go back to the drawing board and realize that the Quarter Pounder, in its original form, already has fans and shouldn't be messed with.
Stay in your lane, McDonald's. A spicy burger is just not for you.