The burger is the archetypal American comfort food, so it’s only fitting that the 2019 James Beard Award winners for American cookbook, chefs JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls, developed a few burger recipes for their tome Between Harlem and Heaven. Throughout the book, Johnson and Smalls explore the culinary impact of the African diaspora and share recipes that reflect the cultural melting pot of the United States, drawing on African, Asian, and African-American influences. For these miniature burgers, Smalls and Johnson swap beef for shrimp, taking inspiration from the cuisine of the Gullah people, descendants of West Africans brought to South Carolina as slaves.
Johnson and Smalls start by crafting panko-crusted shrimp patties, elevated with bird’s-eye chile and herbs, and then cook them until crisped on the outside. They then pull together a punchy, Asian-inspired slaw before assembling the sliders on pillowy potato buns. The result is a flavorful celebration of the intersection of all the various cultures that inspire these chefs. Get the recipe and make them tonight.
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Phoebe Fry is the media intern at the Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.