Now that the "grilling season" has begun [never stopped for me!], there are going to be lots of cookouts to throw and attend. This recipe is perfect for those summer cookouts because it is tropical, easy to make, and it's a departure from the usual burgers and dogs.
These huli huli chicken sliders are what I made for our annual blogger party on the lake this past weekend. I'll do a full post about that fun event later this week but wanted to get the recipe out there for those that asked. Plus I liked this recipe so much that I wanted to use this as my submission to Red, White and Food as part of Meat Week. What is Meat Week?
Not only did this weekend kick off the summer grilling season, it also marked the start of Meat Week on Destination America channel. Meat Week is Destination America's way of celebrating family, friends, grilling, and good times with a week of programming that you can sink your teeth into, such as:
- Smoked - a brand new show that pits All Star Pitmasters (Mixon, Trigg, and Stone) against BBQ competitors in a head to head challenge. I caught the first episode last night and as a barbecuer, I was thrilled with the level of detail covered about the cooking process. Times, temps, and methods are specifically covered, something that doesn't make the cut on most BBQ shows. For example, last night, they talked about how Moe Cason doesn't inject his brisket until it is at an internal temp of 90f.
- Two new episodes of United States of Bacon
- Epic Pits - a one hour show that profiles a handful of unique and high end BBQ pits by Klose, Pitmaker, and others.
- The premier of the new season of BBQ Pitmasters - this Sunday, June 2 at 9pm eastern. I got to spend time with a few of the contestants and judges at Memphis in May and their appears to be a few changes this season. I am looking forward to the new season.
When BBQ Pitmasters first came out, I was excited although I thought that only BBQ aficionados would be into it. But I have been surprised by how many of my non-barbecuing acquaintances tune in and mention the show to me. If you haven't seen these shows, tune in to the Destination America channel (Comcast 113 in Knoxville) this week to check them out.
Okay, back to the sliders. The brine keeps the chicken succulent and juicy. The huli huli sauce gives it a tangy sweetness, almost like terriyaki but different. The ponzu slaw gives a crunch texture and a citrus kick. If you aren't familiar with ponzu sauce, it is kind of like soy sauce but with a lighter, brighter citrus flavor. It used to be harder to find but now you can find it at better grocery stores in the Asian foods section where soy sauce, mirin, and terriyaki sauce is sold.
Huli Huli Chicken Sliders with Ponzu-Ginger Slaw
Ingredients (12 sliders)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 12 Hawaiian sweet rolls
- ponzu-ginger slaw (see recipe)
- 1.5 quarts water
- 1/2 cup terriyaki sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 inch piece of peeled garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic pepper
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup ponzu sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (aka Sugar In The Raw)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 inch piece of peeled ginger, finely minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- Make the brine: Combine the brine ingredients and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and then cool the brine to 40f.
- Brine the chicken: Place chicken breasts in the brine and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Make the sauces: Mix all of the ingredients together. Take 1 cup of the sauce and run it through a blender. This will be your huli huli BASTING sauce. Bring the remaining sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. This thick sauce is your huli huli FINISHING sauce
- Grill the chicken: Preheat a charcoal grill to medium high heat (350-400f). Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Season with the rub. Grill three minutes on each side. Then start the "huli huli" part and start turning the chicken every 1-2 minutes, basting with the huli huli BASTING sauce on every flip.
- When the chicken reaches 150f (at about 10-14 minutes), baste the chicken with the huli huli FINISHING sauce, and keep cooking and flipping until the breasts reach an internal temp of 160f, another 2-4 minutes. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the breasts as thin as you can and then lightly brush the slices with some of the remaining huli huli FINISHING sauce.
- Toast the buns: Split the rolls and grill cut side down until toasted.
- Make the sliders: Top the buns with the chicken and some of the slaw.
- *NOTE: Breast size makes a huge difference. During the three times we tested this recipe, we used breasts from our usual store. For the event, we bought packs from a wholesale club and they were HUGE!!! Not sure if they were chicken or pterodactyl breasts. They took twice as long to cook and almost doubled the serving proportions. So 4 breasts in this recipe is 4 normal sized, boneless, skinless split chicken breasts.
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Ingredients (3 cups)
- 3 cups shredded slaw
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp ponzu sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tsp peeled and minced ginger
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- Mix together the slaw dressing.
- Toss with veggies and refrigerate for an hour prior to serving.
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Huli huli chicken is a Hawaiian roadside staple and usually uses whole or half chickens cooked over a simple barrel cooker, frequently turned and basted in a sweet terriyaki like sauce. For simplicity and quick preparation of sliders, I used boneless skinless chicken breasts. From what I have read, huli huli simply means "turn turn". The constant turning keeps sides from burning and the frequent basting builds layers of flavor onto the chicken.
|During a practice cook I used a few quesadilla baskets so I could flip 6-8 breasts in seconds instead of one by one. This worked well on a charcoal grill but didn't on a gas grill.|
|Slice it thicker and drizzle with sauce if serving as an entree.|
|Slice very thin and place in remaining sauce if using for sliders.|
So when the cookouts start popping up and you need an idea to make your grill proud, keep this one in mind! Happy Meat Week!