Photo by Wales Hunter
Coconut Chicken Sliders
Watermelon, cucumbers and herbs make a garden-fresh topper for chicken burgers highlighted with the flavors of coconut and Chinese spices. Thanks to Janine Washle of CloverFields Farm & Kitchen in Big Clifty for this creatively delicious recipe.
Sugar Baby Slaw
4 cups Sugar Baby watermelon, shredded
1 large cucumber, halved, deseeded and shredded
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemongrass, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh hot red Thai chili, minced
1. Working in batches, wrap watermelon and cucumber shreds in several thicknesses of paper towel and wring out excess moisture. Shreds should look fairly dry.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and lime zest. Add cilantro, mint, lemongrass and chili. Stir to combine.
3. Chill while preparing the other components.
Coconut Chicken Sliders
1 ½ pounds ground chicken breast
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine
3/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons onion, minced
18 French bread dinner rolls
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
36 large fresh basil leaves, washed
1. Prepare Sugar Baby Slaw first so it has time to chill.
2. Prepare the grill using Sweet Smoke Grilling/Smoking Sticks (sorghum-infused wooden sticks).
Direct heat, gas grill: Turn all burners to high.
Direct heat, charcoal grill: Start charcoal in a chimney and transfer to grill. Once white ash covers coals, spread out evenly and replace grate. Test the heat by holding your hand, palm side down, a couple of inches above the grate. If you must remove your palm immediately, the temperature is high.
Prepping sticks for use with both gas and charcoal grills: Dampen grilling sticks by soaking in water 15 minutes before using. Regular-sized family grills will use two on each side. Number of sticks to use is dependent on the size of the grill (i.e., larger grills take more and smaller would use less). Place two sticks on top of the ash-covered charcoal on both sides of the charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, make double-thick foil packets with sticks inside. Punch several holes through packet top and bottom. Place packets on top of gas grids on either side.
Wait about 5-10 minutes, until sticks start smoking. Temperature should be hot, approximately 400 degrees. Test temperature with a temperature gun or a digital thermometer. Alternatively, hold your palm 2 inches above the grilling grate. If you pull away immediately, the grill is hot enough.
3. Prepare the work area. Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray; pour coconut shreds on a large plate; and cover another large plate with the sprayed foil.
4. Place ground chicken in a medium-sized bowl. Add rice cooking wine, five-spice powder, salt, black pepper, minced garlic and minced onion to bowl. Using a large fork, lightly break up meat and stir just until spices are distributed throughout.
5. Pour water into a bowl and dampen hands. Divide chicken mixture into 18 equal portions on the foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and form each into half-inch thick patties, approximately 2 ½ inches in diameter (gauge diameter by measuring one of the dinner rolls).
6. Dampen hands as necessary. Turn patties in coconut pressing lightly and then place them on the foil-lined plate. Once completed, discard foil and any leftover coconut.
7. Using heat-proof gloves, remove grilling grate and spray with a nonstick spray or lightly brush with vegetable oil. Replace on grill. Add the patties, working in batches if necessary.
8. Close lid and grill for 4 minutes. Open lid and turn patties with a spatula. Close lid again and grill for an additional 3 minutes.
9. Test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer through the side of the patties. They are done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
10. Remove to a clean plate and tent plate with foil while preparing the rolls.
11. Stir together the butter and sesame oil. Lightly brush tops and bottoms of the dinner rolls. Put rolls on grilling grate and close lid.
12. Toast for 1-2 minutes, turn and lightly toast other side. Remove to a cutting board and split in half.
13. To serve, place three roll bottoms on a plate. Add a chicken patty to each. Top each patty with a spoonful of Sugar Baby slaw and a couple of basil leaves. Replace the roll tops at an angle. Serve immediately.