Teriyaki Chicken & Mac Salad Sliders

Baseball season has officially begun, and the Giants home opener is so close...just 24 hours before Duane Kuiper announces, "We've got baseball here at 3rd & King.", and Renel welcomes "YOUR World Champion San Francisco Giaaaants!" as they take the field. This weekend, fans at AT&T Park will get to see another championship banner raised, Buster Posey MVP bobbleheads, another World Series Ring Ceremony...

But, unfortunately, I'll have to watch all of  this at home, from my front row seats in front of the TV...

Live-tweeting shenanigans and standing ovations in my living room will have to suffice for now. And, of course, this means that I'll have to come up with my own gameday grub while I'm watching from home. I thought about making Crazy Crab Crostini this weekend, but I ultimately decided on coming up with something entirely new.

Teriyaki Chicken & Macaroni Salad. Sliders.

Yes, teriyaki chicken and macaroni salad. All on a sweet Hawaiian roll. This is basically a plate lunch. (Remember the ones I had after kayaking in Hanalei? Or the ones from Eat the Street?) However, no forks, spoons, or knives required. Now, what does a Hawaiian plate lunch have to do with baseball or the Giants, you ask? Well...nothing...but these are delicious and convenient! You can have a slider in one hand and an ice cold beer (or Hawaiian Sun) in the other while cheering on the team, whether that's from your couch or while tailgating at the stadium. Here's how to make these tasty sliders!

A funny thing happens when you have a food blog... You start to plan what time you cook around the time of day that gives you the best sunlight for photos. Whether it's breakfast, dinner...or cocktails...I always start early in the morning, when the sun shines brightest through my kitchen window. Since I decided to cook the chicken in my Crock Pot, this posed a bit of a challenge...That meant I would need to start the chicken around midnight the night before.

In the end, though, it actually worked out perfectly. The chicken was ready for its close-up by the time I woke up, and... If you or I were to make this...oh, say...for an actual gameday get-together? It would be smart planning to get it done ahead of time anyway, making life leading up to game time a whole lot easier.

To prepare the chicken, combine chicken breasts, fresh ginger, garlic cloves, chopped scallions, and diced pineapple in a slow cooker, then cover everything with a mixture of chicken stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (When I woke up the next morning, the smells wafting from my kitchen almost made me hungry enough to want to pull out some chicken and eat it with rice for breakfast...Almost...)

Once it's done, shred the chicken. You can set it aside on a platter until right before your guests arrive and you assemble the sliders, or pack it into a container for easy transportation to a tailgate. Pour a little bit of the cooking liquid over the chicken to keep it moist.

To make the teriyaki glaze, you'll need a lot of the same ingredients that you cooked the chicken with...garlic, ginger, pineapple, sesame oil, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Saute the garlic, ginger, and pineapple in the sesame oil, then add the brown sugar, soy sauce, and water.

I also added mirin, a rice wine used in Japanese cooking that can add a subtle sweetness, depth, and "umami" to sauces or glazes. (Okay, okay. Technically, I used "mirin style" seasoning. Only because that's all that the grocery store across the street had and I didn't feel like driving to the Asian market for one ingredient...)

When the sauce begins to simmer, make the cornstarch slurry and pour it into the sauce. Stir to evenly combine. (This is what gives the sauce its smooth, restaurant-like appearance.) After a couple of minutes, the mixture will thicken. Strain the glaze into a bowl, and set aside until ready to serve. The teriyaki glaze can keep at room temperature overnight, if you're making it a day ahead, or you can pack it into a sealable plastic container to take with you to the stadium.

Now, the macaroni salad! Before you give me grief about sandwiching pasta between bread, remember... Hawaiian plate lunches are typically served with macaroni salad and rice, anyway. This is not the type of meal you turn to when you're trying to escape carbs. (Just tell yourself that there's a whole cup of carrot in there, maybe add some celery or cucumber...you'll be fine...)

Cook the macaroni in salted, boiling water until it is fully-cooked and soft. Then, combine the pasta, grated carrot, and chopped scallions in a large mixing bowl.

Next, fold in mayonnaise, sour cream, and celery salt. Stir to evenly combine all of the ingredients and completely coat the pasta.

Again, this macaroni salad is ideal for day-ahead prep. It too can be refrigerated until right before your guests arrive, or stored in a cooler until you've pulled up to your prime tailgating spot. (This recipe makes enough macaroni salad to fill at least 12 sliders and to serve some on the side, as well.)

I mentioned that these sliders were inspired by plate lunches. And, if we're going to talk about plate lunches, I might as well go ahead and suggest just serving a hefty pile of teriyaki chicken with a generous scoop of this macaroni salad and a nice big scoop of rice. Right now. Boom.

 But, oooh, we are not done yet... Because we are making sliders.

Hawaiian sweet rolls made perfect sense for these sandwiches. It made so much sense that it would've been a food-crime if I hadn't. King's Hawaiian rolls are pillowy soft but hold their fillings pretty well, and they're the right size for sliders. (Remember how to "Add Aloha"?)

After lightly toasting the rolls, fill them with shredded chicken. Then, top the chicken with teriyaki glaze and macaroni salad. BOOM. (Just be glad that I didn't recommend fitting a scoop of rice in there...)

It's a classic, filling, Hawaiian plate lunch transformed into a just-as-satisfying slider. The chicken is made with a slow cooker and the macaroni salad can be refrigerated, so every part of these mini-sandwiches can be made ahead of time. This makes hosting gameday or packing up for tailgating super easy! Try them this weekend :)

Teriyaki Chicken & Mac Salad Sliders (makes at least 12 sliders)

Print Recipe

Slow-Cooker Chicken:
4-5 Chicken Breasts
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled & smashed
2-in segment Fresh Ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
2 Scallion Stalks, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups Diced Fresh Pineapple
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
2 tbsp Light Brown Sugar
Macaroni Salad:
2 1/2 cups Dried Macaroni
1 cup Grated Carrot (1 medium-sized Carrot, grated)
1/2 cup Chopped Scallions
1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 1/2 tsp Celery Salt

Teriyaki Sauce:
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled & roughly chopped
2-in segment Fresh Ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
1/2 cup Diced Fresh Pineapple 
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Mirin

2/3 cup Water + 1/4 cup Water, divided
1 1/2 tbsp Cornstarch

Hawaiian Rolls
  1. To prepare the chicken, place the chicken breasts, garlic, ginger, scallions, and pineapple into a slow cooker. In a separate bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Whisk together to combine well. Pour this over the chicken, make sure everything is submerged, then cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. To prepare the macaroni salad, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, then add the macaroni. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is fully cooked and soft. Drain the pasta, and allow to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, and celery salt. Whisk to blend well. Then, combine the cooked macaroni, grated carrot, and chopped green onion in a mixing bowl. Add the dressing, and toss everything together until well-combined and the pasta is completely coated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. When the chicken is done cooking, separate the cooking liquid and the chicken. Shred the chicken, and combine with as much of the cooking liquid as needed to keep the chicken moist. 
  4. To make the teriyaki glaze, heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium-high, then add the chopped garlic, ginger, and pineapple. Saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. Next, add the brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, and 2/3 of a cup of water. Stir to combine well, then bring the mixture to a simmer. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water and 1 1/2 tbsps of cornstarch. Whisk together to make a slurry. Once the teriyaki sauce has come to a simmer, pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens into a glaze-like texture. Strain into a bowl, and set aside until ready to serve.
  5. To assemble the sliders, cut Hawaiian rolls in half and lightly toast. Transfer to a serving platter. Place shredded chicken on the bottom halves, then top with teriyaki glaze, macaroni salad, and top halves of the rolls.
  6. Serve on gameday. Enjoy!