Dip-N-Sliders

I have a confession to make…I’m a big fan of buffalo chicken dip. Made with blue cheese or ranch dressing, cheddar or mozzarella cheese, I care not. Paired with tortilla or potato chips, celery or jicama sticks, I do not discriminate. I simply love the spicy goodness of a buffalo wing whipped up and baked into a creamy dip. Who doesn’t? In fact, my penchant for this Super Bowl staple served as the inspiration behind a recent culinary experiment of mine, where I transformed ordinary, hum-drum sliders into mouth-watering buffalo chicken sliders. Yes, you read that right. Buffalo. Chicken. Sliders.

Now, I realize I can’t claim to be the original creator of such a concoction. I’m sure everyone from Rachael Ray to Rick Bayless has a similar recipe or method for either buffalo chicken sliders, buffalo chicken meatballs, buffalo chicken burgers, or–dare I say it–buffalo chicken meatloaf. (Hmmm, might have to try that idea out sometime…) Regardless, when inspiration struck, I avoided the urge to google a recipe and came up with my own flavorful mix of ingredients, and my Buffalo Chicken Sliders were born. Truth be told, I hadn’t set out to make sliders. At first, my plan was to make buffalo chicken meatballs. But the pliability of the ground chicken when combined with the hot sauce, egg, and freshly chopped vegetables prevented the mixture from remaining spherical once scooped and formed into balls. Even before they hit the hot oil, the meatballs flattened into patties, a process accelerated as they cooked. So, what was intended as a dinner of Buffalo Chicken Meatballs accidentally turned into a delicious meal of Buffalo Chicken Sliders, a happy accident that I will undoubtedly recreate in the future…and one you should try if you like buffalo chicken dip and sliders.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

1 lb. ground chicken
2-3 tbsp. Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 tbsp. ranch seasoning
10 crackers, crushed (I used Ritz)
1/2 celery stalk, finely diced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2-1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1 egg
Cheese, shredded or crumbled–your choice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cover the bottom of a large, oven-ready skillet with a thin layer of peanut or vegetable oil (approximately 3 tbsp.) and preheat over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating up, combine all ingredients–except the cheese–in a bowl until well mixed. Divide the mixture into eight portions. To make eight evenly-sized sliders, I used an ice cream scoop and scooped the raw sliders onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (I also rolled the portions into balls, but I’m not sure that is necessary.) Once the oil in the pan is hot, place the raw chicken mixture into the pan, leaving a little room between each slider, and listen to that sizzle! Sear the sliders on each side until crisp and brown, approximately two minutes per side. Transfer the pan of seared sliders into the oven for 12-15 minutes to finish cooking, ensuring their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Just before they’re finished cooking, remove the sliders from the oven, top with your favorite type of cheese–I used shredded cheddar, but mozzarella, monterey jack, or crumbled blue cheese would compliment the buffalo chicken, too–and return to the oven just long enough to melt the cheese (about one minute). Once the cheese is melted, take them out of the oven and serve with your favorite buffalo wing accoutrements, with or without a bun.

A couple of notes: On the Frank’s Hot Sauce–feel free to add more if you’d like. Two to three tablespoons gives the sliders a nice, subtle buffalo chicken flavor. If you prefer a more intense buffalo chicken experience, toss a little more into the mix. Or serve the sliders with Frank’s on the side so people can adjust the buffalo-ness to their individual liking. Also, if your stove-top skillet is not oven-safe, transfer the sliders onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper before baking.

CJC

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