Some say December 21 is National Hamburger Day. Others say National Hamburger Day is July 28. The burger also gets a whole month of celebration in May. Since standard burgers already get so much love, we're taking the opportunity on this alleged food holiday to celebrate the burger's little cousin, the slider.
Once the territory of greasy diners and fast food chains, “sliders” originally referred to thin mini-burgers in squishy potato buns. While purists can still find this classic version, America’s obsession with haute comfort food has inspired chefs to adopt the term for any shrunken sandwich. Now, buzzy ingredients like pork belly or ahi tuna stand in for ground beef, and condiments might include miso aioli over ketchup or house-made kimchi in place of grilled onions.
Food & Wine Best New Chef 2010, Roy Choi, created the star sliders for his Los Angeles food truck, Kogi Korean BBQ, as a nod to his Asian upbringing. As a kid, he would often devour the soft, sweetened store-bought bread called King's Hawaiian. “We used to get the big round loaf with the aluminum tin and grab handfuls and see who could stuff the most in their mouths,” Choi remembers.
“That's exactly what I was thinking about when I went to the store and bought some buns and started to tinker with the Kogi slider: sweet soft buns, sesame mayonnaise, melted cheese, caramelized Korean short rib, salsa roja and our spicy salad mix,” he explains.
In Philadelphia, "Next Iron Chef" winner Jose Garces uses Parker House rolls as a base for smoked pork and a slaw made from apples picked at nearby orchards.
New York City has become a serious slider town, and the most revered version takes an Italian-American approach. The Little Owl’s Joey Campanaro uses his grandmother Rosie Bova’s recipe for meatballs combining beef, pork and veal; they are stuffed into house-made garlic rolls.
In Austin, Food & Wine Best New Chef 2011 Bryce Gilmore peddles pork belly sliders with onions, jalapeños and paprika aioli at Odd Duck food truck. Also part of Austin’s thriving trailer scene, the Peached Tortilla hawks brisket sliders with roasted peach barbecue sauce, and mini crab cakes served with creamy slaw—both on soft, slightly sweet buns.
Fans of Magnolia restaurant in Charleston—known for elegant low country cuisine—call the lunch-only barbecue sliders the "Three Little Pigs" because an order comes with a trio of pulled pork minis on house-baked sourdough buns, with jalapeño-peach coleslaw on the side.
Are you a fan of sliders? Who does it best?
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