Oooooo the Kentucky Derby was fun this year. It was 75 and sunny and we had some great friends over for some eating, drinking, and betting. My horses didn't win (wah wah) but I ate 4 of these to make up for it.
I love theme food. Anything that inspires bread, bacon, butter, and cheese I'm totally down for...and this delivered. I scoured Pinterest for Derby themed food and landed on a variation of these Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders.
I started by shredding Gruyere cheese. This cheese is awesome. It has some flavor to it and it's a firmer cheese so it doesn't completely fall apart when you hand shred/eat it.
Whenever a recipe calls for bacon, I have a really hard time controlling myself. Unless the directions are "make bacon and eat", it's a serious exercise in self control for me. I crisped up this bacon low and slow so it was nice and even and crispy and brown. It takes awhile to make bacon like this...about 30-45 minutes at 350, with constant finessing of flipping, grease draining, and crisping. I took it out of the oven for the last time and then I occupied myself with chips and dip.
When I see bacon like this, my heart sings a little song. The lyrics go "less bacon, more oxygen" but it's a beautiful song regardless. I allowed myself one piece. OKAY TWO.
Hawaiian rolls should be the Illinois State Bread. I'm obsessed with them. Perfect for sliders and they add just the best hint of sweetness. Since I was piling all kinds of stuff on here, I decided to cut the bread loaves in half so I could layer in mass quantities. If I made the sliders individually it would have gone everywhere and would have been more work. Screw that.
...and then added mass quantities of the shredded Gruyere. I'm not going to lie. I probably ate a 1/4 of a cup of the cheese while I was waiting for the bacon to cook and I still had plenty.
The next step is the glaze for the top. This stuff is ridiculous you guys. You melt butter, saute finely chopped onions, garlic powder, and brown sugar to make this savory and sweet topping that melts into the sliders as they bake. This is what makes the sliders extra special. TOO GOOD.
Liberally brush the top of the sliders with the butter mixture. If little pools of butter form like our friend on the right, just turn the other cheek. I topped each of the little tops with a sprinkle of special finishing sea salt. I used unsalted butter so I could add this little touch. Totally optional and not necessary if you are using regular butter. I'm just crazy and nuts about salt. Don't mind meeeee.
After cooking for about 15-17 minutes in a 350 degree oven, the sliders were toasty and melty and super duper delicious. I cut through them in seconds with an electric knife. I recommend that if you want perfectly cut sliders. A regular sharp knife would work too. I didn't have a chance to take a lot of post oven pics because the people we had over were staring at me waiting to try one. So this will have to do.
Here's the recipe adapted from My Recipe Magic: