This is not one of those recipes but I promise, it's really, really worth it.
The really redeeming quality of meat buns is that they freeze beautifully. When I make them, I cook half for lunch (with extra for leftovers) and the other half gets spread on parchment paper on pans to hang out in the freezer. After a few hours, they're frozen solid and hard enough to be put in gallon-sized ziplocks for several weeks. To cook, just let them thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as usual.
Usually we use brown rice instead of the barley that these call for. Brown rice works better than white because it needs a good two hours to soften, where as white rice would cook to mush. The brown rice stays tender and has a bit of texture. Using rice also ensures that the filling is gluten-free and sits nicely in a gluten-free bun as a fancy Sloppy Joe!
Beef and Rice Buns
- 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ½ cups unsalted butter
- 3 2/3 cups bread flour
- 2/3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 onions
- 2 carrots
- 1 pound ground beef or pork
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoon barley or brown rice
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ cup red wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
For the filling:
- Peel the carrots and onions and chop very finely or pulse in a food processor until evenly combined. Fry the ground meat in a large frying pan until browned then add the carrots, onion, barley (or rice), and thyme.
- Cook until the carrots have softened slightly then add the wine. Stir until the wine has mostly evaporated and deglazed the pan.
- Add the chicken broth, cover the pan and let simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
- Cook uncovered for another 40 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked off and reduced to a gravy.
- Cool and then refrigerate overnight. Refrigerating the mixture helps the flavours come together and also makes the meat a bit more solid. It's so much easier to stuff the buns when the meat is cold then when its warm. Trust me on this one-- warm meat makes for a gooey, difficult experience where cold meat is easy and the buns will be more moist. Refrigerate your filling.
For the bread dough:
This recipe makes enough dough to make buns out of about half of the meat. Double the bread dough recipe to make the full batch of meat or save the meat in the freezer for another day (although I wouldn't recommend refreezing the formed meat buns after that).
- Blend the flour into the butter either in a mixer or with your hands. The consistency should be like crumbs.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until dough forms, then knead for 5-10 minutes until elastic.
- Divide into 2 oz (50g) balls and let proof on the counter covered with a damp towel for an hour or until doubled in size.
Put It Together:
- Preheat oven to 325 °F (165 °C).
- When the dough has risen, pull out your meat and cover a baking sheet parchment paper. Flatten the dough ball in your hand so its slightly larger than your palm. Put about a tablespoon of filling in the center.
- Pull the sides of the dough up and around the meat so that the dough all meets in the center.
- Place crease side down onto the paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the bottoms are dark brown and the tops have a bit of color.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Adapted from beef and barley buns from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food: The Ultimate Weekend Cookbook by Jamie Oliver