Sliders… the perfect food for any casual gathering: outdoors on the deck, tailgating in the parking lot, or in your living room during Superbowl Sundays. While classic unadorned sliders and a cold beer are fine on their own, it’s always fun to elevate the simplistic into the sublime, which is exactly what these chow chow sliders do. Bonus is that it’s easy!
What Is Chow Chow Relish?
I’m a huge fan of Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in Las Vegas (and Hubert Keller in general), and was inspired by his Chow Chow Mini-burgers (aka sliders).
Chow Chow is a North American pickled relish, sometimes referred to as piccalilli. Originally, it was made with cucumbers, onions, cauliflower and green peppers left overnight in brine, boiled in (cider) vinegar with whole mustard seed and celery seeds, then mashed into a paste with mustard, flour and turmeric.
Over time, there has been regional variations. The “Northern“ variation is made from vegetables that might include red and green pickled tomatoes, onions, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower and peas.
The “Southern” version is primarily focused on green tomatoes or cabbage. Both are pickled with varying degrees of sugar and pickling spices.
Chow Chow is eaten either by itself or more typically as a condiment on fish cakes, mashed potatoes, beans, hot dogs and hamburgers. The recipe below uses this awesome relish on sliders, an inspiration from Hubert Keller.
Ingredients and Substitutions for Chow Chow Sliders
Although you can obviously use store-bought chow chow relish for your sliders, it’s actually easy enough to make this classic condiment yourself. As I mentioned, there are many different versions, so you can be creative with it.
After all, it was originally simply a way to use up underdeveloped veggies at the end of the season!
For this recipe, we’re using the following:
- Shredded green cabbage.
- Green tomatoes. You can also use normal ones if you can’t find green tomatoes.
- Red bell pepper. Green should also work fine, but I prefer red myself.
- Onion. I love the flavor it adds and it is considered an essential ingredient, but you can leave it out if you’re really not a fan.
- Cider vinegar. Or use normal white vinegar in a pinch, that works too.
- Sugar. Or your favorite heat-resistant sugar alternative.
- Spices. Mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, cayenne powder and cayenne powder are all considered pretty essential. some recipes also use things like mustard, ginger, cloves and more.
For the sliders themselves, let’s keep it simple. We’ll make them with store-bought buns, ground chuck (or your favorite ground meat for burgers) and some green onion or chives for extra flavor.
If you don’t want to fire up the outside grill or if the weather is acting up, these mini-burgers can easily be made with an indoor grill or a plain cast iron skillet. The Griddler (below) is my favorite indoor grill.
Sometimes you don’t want to mess with a good beer and just enjoy it in its natural state. Sometimes you want to kick it up a notch and enjoy your beer with a little spice.
Beer is a classic drink to serve with burgers, whether they be sliders or full scale burgers. An easy way to spice up your beer and make it into a “Michalada” is to add some hot sauce, lime and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Rim the glass with some lime zest or powdered chile powder and you’ve got a super-refreshing summer drink that pairs perfectly with burgers!
The combination of Sliders and Beer cry out for casual hang-outs and companionship. Start the grill, text your friends to come over and enjoy!
If you’re not a big beer drinker, a big pitcher of sangría makes for an excellent alternative.
Chow Chow Sliders
- 1 grill or skillet
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage
- ½ lb green tomatoes optional, depending on availability
- 1 cup red bell peppers chopped (I used jarred roasted red peppers)
- 1 small onion chopped
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ Tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 ½ tsp celery seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup green onion sliced
- 2 lbs. ground chuck 20 % fat
- ¼ cup BBQ sauce your preferred brand
- Combine the cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, onion, vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds,turmeric, cayenne and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a heavy saute pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.4 cups shredded green cabbage, 1/2 lb green tomatoes, 1 cup red bell peppers, 1 small onion, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon mustard seeds, 1 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, salt
- Preheat a grill or a skillet to medium high, wiping down the grate or skillet with olive oil before heating. I have a Cuisinart Griddler Delux and I love it for indoor grilling. Turn the top and bottom plates both on sear if you have one of these.
- In a bowl, use your hands to gently mix together ground beef, green onions, and 1/2 tsp pepper (more to taste). Do not add salt, as this will cause the meat to start to cure and give it a different texture.1/4 cup green onion, 2 lbs. ground chuck, pepper
- Use a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup to form the mini-burgers. Pack the measuring cup with the burger mixture and level it off. Turn the measuring cup over onto a plate and tap the bottom until the burger patty drops out. Don't handle the meat too much, as it is better texture and taste if it is light and airy. Salt the burger patties right before grilling.salt
- Grill the burgers until charred on the outside and cooked inside until no longer pink (160 degrees), turning once. It takes about 3-5 minutes per side (if desired, add cheese on top of the patties for the last couple of minutes to melt). Remove the burgers and allow them to rest on a paper towel for a couple of minutes. While the patties are resting, grill the buns, cut side down, until toasted.mini-buns
- Spread the bottom buns with your favorite BBQ sauce. Place the burger patty on the sauce and top with a generous portion of chow chow mix. Serve with your favorite beer or non-alcoholic drink.1/4 cup BBQ sauce