Well, now that it is all said and done, the holidays are 112% behind us, I feel like I can finally catch up, and get back to, real life. As soon as December 1 hits, its a whirlwind of anxiety, rushing, financial insecurity, deadlines, parties, late work hours, heavy traffic…oh, and some holiday cheer thrown in there somewhere…Phew, I’m exhausted all over again, just thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season, and love everything about this time of year, however, its just one of those things, we love it, but we kinda love when its over. Case in point? I am finally writing this long over due post. Earlier in December, I was invited to a holiday party, wherein I was excited to bring a side dish (as I always am). So the question becomes, obviously, what to bring? More specifically what run through my brain…’What to bring that will be both impressive, and delicious that everyone swoon over, that is both healthy-ish, but not so healthy that no one will want to eat it, and will undoubtedly win me the unspoken prize of best side-dish/appetizer, allowing me to reign victorious. Yes, true story folks, I’m somewhat of a competitive person, even though in person, I’ll deny it, in response, “Oh, I just wanted to make something simple, and yummy.” Okay, truth be told, ‘simple’ is a very subjective term, ahem, but nonetheless, I love cooking (obviously, otherwise why would you be reading this) and will cook something for any party, regardless as to whether or not it was initiated that I needed to bring anything. That’s just me.
SO, for this party, I knew I wanted to make some sort of smallish food, single servings, that was both inventive, tasty, not to unfamiliar to people, and not a typical pigeonholed holiday party food. I.e. no pigs in a blanket, no fondue, no ham and cheese weirdness, ect ect. I decided on sliders. Sliders are totally approachable, impressive to look at all arranged on a platter, and the fillings/garnish options are endless. I decided on a pulled chicken slider, with a distinctly Latin flair. Totally unlike any usual holiday dish, this fresh finger-food was fabulous, and given the zero sandwiches left at the end of the night, it seemed to be a pretty popular food table addition.
There are a lot of components to this dish, no questions about it, however, the skill involved in each part isn’t difficult, and the only somewhat challenging part simply come at the end, when you’re trying to jam pack all the goodness onto one bun, which I will mention, its okay if some of the ‘stuff’ falls off, that just means there’s more little tasty nuggets to pluck up and taste test along the way…
You can make pretty much any step of this dish in advance and just bring it all together for assembly. If you make the chicken in advance, I recommend shredding it within 30 minutes of taking out of the oven, because its much easier to shred when its warm. Then simply refrigerate it until you’re reading to assemble the sandwiches. You can reheat the shredded chicken in the oven, with a little added chicken broth for like 20 minutes at 300, until its warmed through, and juicy.
Okay, so the list of components for the Cuban Pulled Chicken Sliders
Fire Roasted Poblano Peppers
Pickled Red Onion
Cumin Spiced Pulled Chicken
Aaaaand the Recipes
1/2 C Mexican Crema (available at any Latin market, or at most major grocery stores, in the refrigerated section in the dairy dept)
scant 1/2 C chopped cilantro
1-2 clove(s) minced garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper (or to you taste, if you like more heat, by all means spice it up!)
Mix all ingredients together. Tricky, I know. Season with a little salt and pepper, and taste to make sure its flavorful.
1 Whole fresh pineapple, trimmed, peeled, cored, and finely cubed (you’ll end up needing only about half the pineapple cubed up, fyi
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
2 T tequila
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 tsp Sriracha
good seasoning of sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together, and toss well to combine. This salsa is best after it sits for a little while, stirring every so often, so the seasoning and the tequila all kinda absorbs into the fruit and peppers.
This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a technique. One of my favorite techniques by the way. Fire roasting peppers is a great way to lessen their fiery flavor (if applicable) and to give them a deeper richer flavor. AND, you don’t have to have a fireplace, or bonfire to do this, just a gas range, or if you don’t have that, you could even do it in your oven, set to broil.
Take 2 poblano peppers, and place them directly over the flame of your gas top range, set to med-high. If you’re using the oven, set the broil to high, and place the peppers on a heavy duty sheet pan, on the top rack, so the peppers are very close to the heat. Rotate the peppers every 4-5 minutes, or until they are charred on all sides. Yes, I mean charred, as in pretty black. The skin should be completely burnt all over. Its okay to have some areas that are less dark, or still showing some green, as long as they are 90% blistered and charred. Remove from the heat, and immediately place into a ziploc bag, and let sit for 10 minutes. After that time, the peppers should be cool enough to handle. Remove from the bags, and lightly rub the skin of the peppers, the skin should pretty much just slip right off, in pieces. Be gentle not to tear the flesh of the peppers, but you can also hold them under lightly running water to help wash away the tiny bits of burnt skin that are a little tricky to get off the peppers. After removing all the skin, you’ll have a nicely roasted darker green/brownish colored pepper. Now, just remove most of the seeds from inside, and thinly slice the peppers into strips, and reserve for arranging on each sandwich later on.
Pickled Red Onion
see recipe here at David lebovitz’s awesome blog
Cumin Spice Chicken
Coat a sheet pan with foil, then with olive oil. Take 8-10 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on. Sprinkle liberally with
2 T cumin
3 T salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 T oregano (dried)
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
rub all over chicken, and slightly under skin if possible. Place on sheet pan, and roast in a 375 degree oven for approximately 25-30 minutes. Until juices are running clear and the skin is gorgeously crispy and sizzling and a rich brown color. Allow to cool out of the oven for 20-30 minutes, then pull off the bones and shred. Discard the skin, or save it, and later re-crisp in the oven for a deliciously indulgent unctuous little snacky snack.
Okay peeps that’s it. Assemble all together and try not to make too much of a mess. Although ultimately impossible. All these components on this little sandwich work perfectly together. Hawaiian bread sweet rolls are perfect vehicles (slightly toasted) to hold all this goodness together.
Serve em at your next party, they’ll be a big hit, I promise. I may not be Cuban, but these are my new cubo-american staples. Just don’t go around telling any Cuban grandmothers, or I’ll be in big trouble.