What’s for dinner? Pale ale chicken sliders

Published 3:11 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

I rarely cook with beer, adding it sometimes to a stew, but the Oct/Nov. issue of ‘Fine Cooking’ had a great article on cooking with beer and there was a recipe I wanted to create.

1008-chicken-slidersBeer is complex for something only made with four ingredients: malted grains, hops, yeast, and water. Malted gains like barley, wheat and rye give beer its sweeter flavors like those of toasted bread and dark caramel. Hops, the green flowers of an herbaceous plant, balance this sweetness with some bitterness. Yeast can leave a beer tasting crisp and clean or spicy and fruity, depending on the type. Even the water plays a part in the final flavor.

Beers with complex flavors, like India pale ales (better known as IPAs) and porters add instant depth to simple dishes, while most straightforward beers like mild English ales add maltiness or yeastiness to complement more complex dishes. Others, like malty amber ales, are good with almost anything.

The point at which you add the beer also affects flavor. A splash of hoppy beer can brighten a rich dish just before serving, but becomes bitter as it is cooked. Light, mild beers, can lose their flavor if cooked for a long time, but can act as the acid in a dish if added later.

In this recipe, the hoppy flavor of pale ale adds depth to both the chicken and a quick-pickled red onion topping. This recipe was a hit with us. It would be a great dish to take to a tail-gate party.


From ‘Fine Cooking’ magazine, Oct/Nov 2016.


Pale Ale Pulled

Chicken Sliders

24 sliders; serves 10-12


For the pickled onion:

1 12-oz. bottle American pale ale

¾ cup white-wine vinegar

1 tsp. granulated sugar

Kosher salt

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced


For the chicken:

3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

4 medium cloves garlic, smashed

2 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

Kosher salt

1 12-oz. bottle American pale ale

4 tsp. Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Tabasco; more to taste

¾ cup mayonnaise


For assembly:

24 slider buns, preferably whole grain

2 cups baby arugula


Pickle the onion:
Combine the beer, vinegar, sugar, and ¼ tsp. salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the onion. Let cool to room temperature, stirring once or twice. (The onion can be used right away or refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.)


Cook the chicken:

Position the rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325°F.

Put the chicken and garlic in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot with a lid. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, tomato paste, and 1 tsp. salt, then whisk in the beer. Pour over the chicken.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a rapid simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until the chicken pulls apart easily with a fork, 50-60 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Transfer the garlic cloves to a small bowl and set aside. Using two forks, pull the meat into shreds and set aside.

Over medium-high heat, boil the braising liquid until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and add 2 tsp. of the hot sauce add 2 tsp. of the onion pickling liquid. Mix well and season to taste with more hot sauce, pickling liquid, or salt.

Mash the reserved garlic cloves with a fork. Whisk with the mayonnaise and remaining 2 tsp. hot sauce.

(The chicken and the garlic mayonnaise can be prepared up to 3 days ahead; refrigerate both and reheat the chicken before serving.)


Assemble the sliders:

Spread a thin layer of the garlic mayonnaise on the bottom of each slider bun. Top each with about ¼ cup of the chicken, some pickled onion, and some arugula leaves. Close the slider buns and serve.