Why the slider’s not in Kansas anymore
Four or five years ago, sliders were everywhere. At the time, we said we’ll never do sliders as long as they’re on the menu at Burger King. When it’s ubiquitous, you’ve gotta have a really good reason to do it.
We were more interested in trying to figure out how to feature lamb on the menu. People can be pretty picky about a lot of things — especially lamb.
Secondly, we couldn’t find anyone locally with enough lamb to supply a restaurant on a regular basis. Then we met Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm. Craig’s lamb is a Katahdin-Texel cross and its taste is incomparable.
The Lambastic Slider is now a permanent pick on the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen menu. As a starter, pair it with a medium body red wine, like a Cotes du Rhone, or Shiraz. Then choose a new seasonal entrée off the new winter menu.
We first served it like barbecue, smoked and pulled. We felt like it was a good way to present something that looked familiar, tasted familiar, but wasn’t familiar. If the guise, or the plating procedure is too substantially different than what people expect, then it takes more salesmanship.
So what if it had a different rub, and flavor profile, but it looked like pulled pork on johnny cakes? So we offered Pulled Lamb on Johnny Cakes, and christened it Ownesboro, KY barbecue.
Owensboro BBQ is a hyper-regionalized style known as mutton BBQ. The lengthy smoking process includes a constant mopping of the mutton with a salty mixture. Chris Chamberlain in Food Republic has a great story about it.
The lamb here was a modest success, but not overwhelming. But we believed in Craig, his story, and his food, and kept trying to figure out how to feature it.
Around that time Anna Mae Breads was making a believer of us. Shana’s (roller of Anna Mae Breads) personality was infectious and we knew that we wanted to support her business. We tasted five different kinds of bread that she made: Pullman loaves, sandwich rolls, dinner rolls, and slider buns; that was my Eureka! Moment. I knew we would make sliders. With her bread, and Craig’s mutton, we went on this slider kick where we explored all the different ways to construct sliders.
Lambastic Sliders came out of, “How can we feature Craig on this menu?” We made a lamb sausage topped with pepper jelly and goat cheese. Lamb is often served with mint jelly and the pepper jelly gives it a more southern kick, and the goat cheese is from down the road (Goat Lady Dairy).
Chef tips: Create your own slider
- Use a patty meat. Loose meats get a little too sloppy.
- We use Florida Bakery now that Anne Mae Breads has gone out of business. But you can use brown and serve dinner rolls.
- When you’re picking additional flavors, try to create a perfect balance between sweet, sour, salty, and savory. Balance spicy with sour or tartness. If it has a sour component, we like to balance with a little sweetness.
- Think of your favorite sandwich combinations and reference it with other ingredients.
FYI: For your inspiration, consider our previous slider combos
Whistle Bite Slider with slow-cooked Bradds Family pork belly, Pig & Whistle sauce and green tomato chowchow.
A popular incarnation was the Throwback Slider featuring pork sausage, spicy mustard, and caramelized onions. The name is a reference to the original accoutrements of the hamburger.
Next was the Winter BLT Slider: pork belly, tomato jam, and the hearts of romaine. Because tomatoes aren’t good in the winter, we used tomato jam (we make a big deal around here about using good tomatoes). With the crunchy, bitter ribs of the romaine, it was awesome. Some folks were confused by the name, however, and it didn’t go over so well here.
For Thanksgiving, we did Madison Sliders with turkey sausage and cranberry chutney.
This winter we’ve featured Umami Sliders: pickled shiitake mushroom relish and Green Hill camembert cheese, in our first veggie slider.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Hot Pepper Jelly recipe
We use locally grown chiles from the Guilford College Farm
- 1 cup red bell peppers
- 1 cup green bell peppers
- 1 cup Jalapeno peppers
- 3 fl oz white vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 box Sure Jell – 2/3 cup pectin
Wash peppers well and then chop. In a food processor, pulse peppers and 2 tablespoons vinegar three times for 2 seconds each. Do not liquefy. Transfer peppers to a sauce pot. Add remaining vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in Sure Jell and simmer 1 minute. Pour into a labeled container and cool before using.
Makes: 1 pint