Hi guys, I’ve been a bit awol lately; I’ve been a little under the weather, so I hope you’re bearing with me. I’m feeling better, but it seems hard to stay on track and I’m sleeping off and on pretty much around the clock. And it’s been hard to get excited about anything. Although I gotta admit, I did get pretty excited about these Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders. I actually want them again already.
My son, Kraig, came over a while back and we made these. I can’t remember what else we did, but I remember these fat little baby sliders! Kraig was kind enough to handle the grilling (I’ll give you broiling instructions, too) and these were so easy, they were practically no effort – but they had a huge payoff in terms of big flavor. That’s due to the Harissa paste & I’ll talk about that later.
About Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders:
We felt like we’d been transported to a trendy Bistro or Brew Pub or some kind of fancy “in” place. It was like having that pub experience without fighting the crowds, waiting in line or paying the high price! And while these sliders are going to be great to grill up for the family I think they’d make any backyard, deck or pool party a fabulous experience and would be perfect for a Game Day party. Not that I have a pool; I don’t even have a back yard (my house butts up against a dead-end alley.) Just make them all ahead and put out everything “bar” style.
These fat little sliders are absolutely gorgeous; they’re “salt-cured” (I’ll explain that below, too) and flavored with the zippy Middle Eastern Harissa chili paste and stuffed with Feta cheese. That Feta just melted into the center of the burgers and added a perfect balance to the rest of the burger.
The normal burger accompaniments aren’t gonna cut it with these stuffed sliders. It took minutes to whip up a little Harissa Mayo, which is slathered on both the top and the bottom of the buns – that’s where your heat is, so you can make that as mild or as strong as you’d like. The mayo folds the other stuff in place: lettuce greens and carrot shreds on the bottom, Pickled Red Onions and a quick and easy Tomato Salad (kind of like a Salsa) on the top.
Making Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders:
You might know that in Minnesota, we’re big on stuffing burgers and call them Juicy Lucys or Jucy Lucys so it wasn’t a stretch for me to want to stuff my sliders with Feta cheese. I pulled my step by step process to make a stuffed burger so the cheese won’t ooze out from my post on Juicy Lucyfer Sliders. If you click over, you’ll also see a comparison of how burgers stuffed haphazardly turn out as opposed to taking a bit of time and care with them.
Harissa isn’t your everyday ingredient. It’s a zippy mixture of crushed or ground up chili peppers, herbs, and spices, and one or two spoonfuls give these sliders the most incredible flavor without having to add anything else. Harissa is worth looking for; it can be used in all kinds of things and once you have some, you’ll probably be putting a dab of it in just about everything from eggs to hummus to meatloaf! You can freeze it in a Ziploc, too, and break off a piece when you need it.
You can buy it a tube, can, jar or a plastic container in the refrigerator section, or make it at home, too. If you can’t find it, a little of any of the Asian chili mixtures you can buy, like Sambal Oelek or Gochuchang can go in these burgers, but not too much because they’re hotter than Harissa. Sriracha can stand in but go easy on it. To read more about these mixtures, check this post from the Pepperpot comparing Harissa to Sriracha & follow some of the links. A shake or two of the spice mix Za’atar is nice, if you have it on hand if you use any of the Asian options. I wouldn’t buy it just for this recipe, but that stuff is the bomb!
This is from how to make Juicy Lucyfer Sliders, but the concept is the same; just use Feta:
Salt Curing the Sliders:
I did do something quite a bit different with the sliders and it might take a leap of faith for you to do it, too. Kraig and I had quite a discussion on the merits of different ways of preparing burgers for grilling (he suggested they be room temperature and normally I’d agree) but in the end, this method won him over. Give it a shot; you can see how gorgeous the sliders are from the pics.
Before cooking and after shaping, put the sliders on a rack and sprinkle very liberally top and bottom with salt. Just plain old table salt. Leave in the fridge for about an hour, uncovered to “cure”. Cook them from cold. Most of that salt will melt off with the excess fat (they don’t taste at all salty) but it works some magic – you’ll have the most incredible tasting burgers. You won’t need to add salt inside the burgers, btw!
It works kind of like cooking the Juicy Lucys in my post for the Juicy Lucy, the Ultimate Cheese Stuffed Burger. Check out the step by step photos in that post and you’ll see how I salt my cast iron pan. These burgers, though, will be grilled or broiled.
Saving Money on Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders:
My site has a post on Feta cheese, “What to Know About Feta” but the quick lowdown as far as shopping is to look for the blocks of Feta. Ounce for ounce they are a lot less per pound than the crumbles. I’m also posted a fun copycat version of a Longhorn Steakhouse Salad that will help you use up the rest of your block of Feta or you can just follow the tag “Feta” at the bottom of the post. In the meantime, don’t leave your Feta “dry” in the fridge; make a quick brine, like shown in What to Know About Feta and it will keep for months.
Sliders are a fun way to stretch your ground beef. While these aren’t wimpy (they do have 1/4 pound each of beef) they seem like so much more! It’s a bit of a psychological trick, but these fat sliders are so much more satisfying than a 1/4 pound burger. Compare these to 1/4 burger at Mickey Dees! When I make burgers, I use the cheap ground beef, 80/20 or 75/25; it really does make a better tasting burger. Bonus for being less expensive, too. Look for ground beef on sale in the larger family packs, break it down into reasonable sizes & freeze.
When shopping for “Slider buns” check around your store for other options and don’t overlook the bakery department! Often your store will have dinner rolls that might be cut in half, either in their bakery or in the bread aisle that might be more reasonable than actual slider buns. Keep an open mind.Print
Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders
You’re gonna feel like you’re in a trendy Brew Pub or Bistro when you serve Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders! They’re fab!
- Prep Time: 20 min plus 1 hour rest
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
- Yield: 4 sliders 1x
- Category: Beef Main Dish
- Method: Grill
- Cuisine: American
For the Sliders:
- 20 ounces (1 1/4 pounds) ground beef
- 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons Harissa for burgers and more to taste for the Harissa Mayo
- 2 to 3 ounces Feta cheese, preferably in thin slices
- about a tablespoon and a half of table salt
- 4 slider buns
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- pickled red onions (see recipe)
- lettuce mix or arugula
- thinly shaved or grated carrots, if not in the mix already
- Ethiopian Tomato Salad (shortcut with a purchased Pico de Gallo salsa)
For the Ethiopian Tomato Salad:
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (3 if small)
- 1/2 onion or a partial red onion diced, about 1/2 cup
- 1 to 2 jalapenos, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar, white or cider
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few shakes of Za’atar, optional
To Grill and Assemble the Sliders:
If using charcoal, build fire about 25 to 30 minutes before cooking, if using a gas grill or broiling, preheat about 10 minutes before cooking.
Place the ground beef in a bowl and add the Harissa, one heaping tablespoon for a litle flavor, 2 for a bit of heat. Mix gently with fingers to combine, taking care not to compress the beef. Shape and stuff the ground beef into four sliders by following the instructions in the body of the post.
Heavily salt the burgers, top and bottom, place on a rack over a plate or tray and refrigerate, uncovered for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
While the burgers are in the fridge, ready the rest of the ingredients and make the Harissa Mayo and Ethiopian Tomato Salad. For the Mayo, start with 1/2 cup of mayonaisse and add Harissa by taste until desired heat level is reached. For the Tomato Salad, mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate both until ready to use.
Prepare buns by cutting in half and brushing the cut edge with a little oil or butter. Place on the grill to lightly toast when the burgers are turned.
When the grill is medium-hot, brush the grill grate with oil to keep the sliders from sticking. Place the sliders on the grill and cook for about three minutes the first side. Turn the sliders over with a spatula and cook approximately another 2 minutes, until medium-rare, or longer to desired doneness. Remove the buns onto one plate and the sliders to a second, tent the sliders with foil and rest for about 5 minutes as you prepare the buns & assemble the sliders.
Add Harissa Mayo to the bottom and top of each bun. To the bottom, add a little of the salad and shredded carrots. Place the sliders on the salad mixture, then the pickled red onions and the tomato salad on top of the sliders. If desired, spear the pickles on the top of the top bun and cover the sliders.
Serve with remaining tomato salad.
To Broil the Sliders:
Preheat broiler on high for at least 10 minutes. When ready to broil, place sliders on a rack over a foil-lined sheet. The oven rack should be set in the middle of the oven so the sliders are six to eight inches from the broiler. Broil on high for 7 minutes. The timing is rather particular – the burger has to be in the oven long enough to melt the cheese inside but no so long that it causes the cheese to expand and ooze out, so customizing your burger to cook to other temperatures such as rare, medium, well done, etc. is at your own risk.
Remove immediately (or they could stick) and rest for about 5 minutes before serving, which is just long enough to assemble.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Beef, Burgers, Cheese, Feta Cheese, Ground Beef, harissa, Hot Peppers.
I’ll be linking up my Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #297.