Secondly: my 2 year blogiversary is coming up this weekend, so stay tuned for a couple of really cool giveaways!
And thirdly: wait. There is no third. On to the sliders then!
Father’s Day is, of course, coming up this weekend, and one way to show Dad he is special (in a good way) is to make him a special meal. Grilling always comes to mind because of the association of guys and grilling, but I am grill-less, so alas, I have no grill recipes for you. Steak is another thing that comes to mind, but we don’t eat that around here very much because it’s expensive. (At least the good steak is, and what’s the point of throwing away money on tough rubbery steak?)
Here, then, is a perfect Dad’s Day meal if you are grill-less and penniless like me: sliders. (Feel free to play up the cheesy baseball references. )
Cue the soundtrack:
Now we’re ready to start. This is not so much a recipe for the perfect slider filling (although I will tell you what I put in mine, and give you some more ideas), as much as it is a trick to make them as easily as possible.
In fact, I’ve started making these once every week or two , because I’ve discovered how quick and easy (and cheap and healthy, yada yada) these are. More reasons why I make them:
- They freeze beautifully.
- They are easier to keep than a loaf of bread. Nine times out of ten, I end up with a stale hunk of bread after we’ve had a meal or two with the rest of the loaf, but with sliders, I can easily take the portion I need and keep the rest frozen until I need it again.
- They look cuter than regular sandwiches.
- Instant portion control!
- I think we end up using less bread dough in the end by making it into sliders, because I really think it goes farther.
- Baking the dough in smaller portions takes less time, both in rising and in actual baking.
In short, it’s a win-win all around. I think my DH secretly feels these are a little bit too girly for him, but when I feel them with something manly like beef, he doesn’t mind. In fact, he’ll polish off several in one sitting (so much for portion control. Oh well, it works for me and that’s the more important thing, since I’m the one who gains the weight in this household.).
I use my artisan bread dough to make my sliders, which should be no surprise to you if you’ve read my blog for any length of time at all. I cannot recommend this bread-making method highly enough for anyone who wants healthy fresh bread, but doesn’t want to invest a great deal of time into it. A few minutes to mix up the dough, then just let it sit on the counter for a few hours (or more – sometimes I let it sit overnight). Keep in the fridge, and for the next two weeks, you have bread dough at the ready for pizza crusts, rolls, flatbreads, and loaves of bread. A loaf of bread still requires quite a bit of resting and baking time, but rolls, pizza crusts, flatbreads - and sliders! – take very little time to rise and bake (less than an hour all told). Find the instructions for artisan bread dough here.
The last batch of artisan dough I made, I was thrilled to be able to use a kitchen scale for the first time to measure out the ingredients. At the FitBloggin’ conference in May, I was given an EatSmart Kitchen Scale , something I have been wanting for a looooooong time! I was SO excited to pull it out for my artisan bread dough, and I was not disappointed with the results.
Well, to be honest, I was disappointed at first, because the dough was more liquidy than I had ever seen it and I was sure it wouldn’t work. Actually, these turned out to be the best tasting bread I’ve made with the artisan recipe yet, so something was working right!
I’m excited to try even more recipes with the scale (I’ve also had great success with gluten-free recipes!), and you’ll hopefully be seeing more metric measurements here in the future (don’t worry, I’ll still give you cups and TBSPs!).
Hopefully, once I’ve got more practice under my belt, I will be able to share with you what I’ve learned about how to use a scale and the metric system in your baking.
But back to the sliders. If you’re not convinced about the merits of artisan bread dough, don’t worry: pretty much any bread or roll recipe will work in the same way. The trick is more in how it’s baked than how it is mixed together and what the exact ingredients are.
Enough already, you say vehemently! OK then, so what is this trick to making sliders?!
Easy. A muffin tin! That’s it. All you have to do is portion out your dough into a muffin pan (fill each cup about halfway), let it rest for 15-20 minutes, then bake it for another 15-20 minutes at 450F.
And voila! Perfect little slider buns. (Awww, so cute!)
Once they’re cooled down a bit, you just remove them from the pan, slice them in half horizontally, and fill them with whatever you desire. Most recently I made roast beef sliders (sure to be a hit with Dad if he’s a beef-eater like my children’s father!), using up some leftover roast beef. I layered the following on the bottom piece of the roll:
- thick slice of roast beef
- 1 TBSP of homemade BBQ sauce (I will have to blog about that one soon!)
- a dill pickle “hamburger slice”
- half a piece of provolone (or whatever cheese I had at the time)
- a piece of lettuce from my garden
- a swirl of spicy brown mustard on the “lid”
Of course, you can put in your slider whatever your little heart (or Dad’s heart) desires. Pretty much anything that goes in a sandwich can go in a slider, just in smaller (and cuter) portions. Some suggestions:
- pulled pork
- shredded beef
- chicken salad
- tuna salad
- lunchmeat and cheese
- crab salad (especially good for a luncheon with guests)
So, to recap:
Sliders are QUICK because they take less time to rise and bake than traditional loaves of bread. They also defrost more quickly, and are quicker to utilize than bread. They’re great for weeknight meals, or lunchboxes.
Sliders are EASY-er to bake than loaves, at least in my opinion. Free-form artisan loaves can be tricky to shape and bake properly, but with the muffin tin, all you have to do is plop the dough into the tin. It does help, I think, to cut a small slit in the top of each slider before baking, otherwise you get a Hershey-kiss-like effect.
Homemade sliders are so CHEAP! Flour, water, yeast, and salt. Pretty basic!
If you use at least half whole grains, and appropriate fillings (veggies like lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, etc.), they can also be very HEALTHY.
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