I have played with old and new flavors and ingredients and ideas. A stuffed bun is not new, but somewhat new to me. I have to tell you, this may be one of my new favorites, could be if I could get my hands on them before they disappeared. I made about 30 of these, larger than a golf ball, but smaller than a racquetball. Somewhere between. I finished them a little later in the evening than planned, and asked my son to taste. He was a little reluctant and said he was full from dinner. Well, when I woke up the next day, there was only 12 left.
I reheated them and offered some to the cleaning crew (They have been cleaning my house for years). They all but disappeared as well. What was left was gobbled up by my son with in minutes.
That is great! I love getting such rave reviews on things i make. But now I am a little worried. I am heading home to Minnesota for my Grandma’s 90th birthday. As part of the trip, we always try to see as many people as possible as we have a very large family and a large friend base in Minnesota. I was asked to help out with the cooking (which I am more than happy to do), and I thought these would be great to serve. What worries me, even if I triple the recipe, will it be enough? Good thing I have other things on the menu, but I have a feeling these will be swiped right off the baking sheet!
The good news about this recipe is that it is very versatile. You can make it Vegetarian, Vegan, switch up the protein and vegetables. Many combinations will work and they will all be delicious. Because they are smallish, they are great appetizers and make a great on the go lunch or after school snack.
For this recipe, I did not have ground pork in the house, but I DID have a package of really good Brats. I used that instead and I have to say, I would do it again. Ground pork is good, but the Brat (or any sausage) adds a little bit more flavor and i could get a good sear on it which also added flavor. Just a caution on the fat. This will release fat which you can drain off. In fact, you will want to drain the entire mixture to remove the excess moisture. If there is too much liquid, the buns will be soggy and may not seal or stay intact. This will be included in the instructions.
So let’s get to it!
2 in chunk of ginger, peeled and diced
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
2 TBS butter
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or Sesame Oil)
4 large Bratwurst, sliced and diced (or 1 LB ground pork or 1 pkg firm tofu, diced)
1/4 cup sake or rice cooking wine
3 TBS soy sauce (low sodium soy is good to help control the salt content)
3 – 4 handfuls of baby spinach (about 3 – 4 loose cups)
3 – 4 stalks of Bok Choy (or celery with leaves), sliced into 1/4 in thick slices
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over med-high heat.
- Once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, brats, garlic, ginger and season with pepper and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to Medium heat.
- Saute and stir about every 3 – 5 minutes. The mixture will start to brown and stick to the pan. This is good as it develops very good caramelized flavors. Continue sautéing until most of the mixture had taken on the caramelized color.
- Add in the Sake/Cooking Wine and soy sauce. Stir until most of the liquid is gone.
- Increase the heat to med-high, and add in the spinach, Cabbage, Bok Choy and stir about every 2 – 3 minutes letting the liquid release and mix with the entire mixture. Simmer again until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Put a colander over a bowl and pour the contents into the colander to drain and allow the mixture to cool. Continue with making the buns once the bread dough is ready.
If you wish, you can take the excess liquid and simmer over medium heat until it reduces by at least 1/2 and becomes like syrup. This can then be remixed with the filling for an extra flavor boost.
Remember, we want to keep the mixture low moisture so the buns are not soggy or fall apart. However, if you are serving over noodles or with rice, the extra liquid is wanted. No draining is necessary.
Continue with the next section and make the stuffed buns, or after step 5, serve as is over rice. A nice addition is adding dry roasted unsalted peanuts (about 2/3 cups) in step 4 if you are serving over rice or with noodles.
try some of these other additions or substitutions:
– 2 cups loosely packed bean sprouts
– Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, diced
– Hamburger or a meatball mixture instead of pork
– Shredded carrots (added in step 1 of the filling so they soften)
– Spinach, Feta, Onion, and a splash of cream
– Tofu instead of pork
– 2 TBS cream to give a creamier texture – adjust for salt if using cream as it may dilute the salt fl
– Ham instead of pork
– No reason NOT to add bacon, chop it and cut the butter and/or oil as bacon has a little bit of fat
– Water Chestnuts
– Bamboo shoots
– Italian sweet sausage instead of pork or Brats
– Sauerkraut in place of the Napa cabbage
– Add a touch of hot mustard
SWEET BREAD DOUGH
2/3 cup Milk
4 TBS Butter or Vegetable/Canola Oil
.25 oz Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
3 TBS warm water
2.5 TBS sugar
2.5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten to brush on the buns for added shine and browning
- Heat the Milk and butter/oil over medium heat until the butter is melted or the milk and oil is warm. Set aside to cool to room temperature or slightly above.
- In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and water, and let the yeast activate and start to foam/bubble (about 5 minutes), add to the luke warm milk. Stir to combine.
- In a food processor or electric mixer with a dough hook, add the flour and sugar, pulse a few times or stir for about 20 seconds.
- With the machine running, slowly add the yeast/milk mixture.
- The rough will form and pull away from the sides creating a soft and slightly sticky ball. If it is too dry, add 1 tsp of luke warm water at a time until the dough forms a soft slightly sticky ball.
- Get a large bowl, and oil the bottom and sides. Place the dough in the bowl, cover in plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot in the kitchen.
- Let the dough double in size, about 1.5 – 2 hours. The surface of the dough should have bubbles forming and when you press with your finger it should not spring back. Your finger indent should remain. This is now done.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut the dough in 1/2.
- Lightly flour a work surface, and roll one half of the dough into a 12 in log as uniform as you can for thickness. Slice into 16 slices (or close to it). Roll each into a ball ( about the size of a golf ball or slightly smaller)
- If you have a tortilla press, this is a great time to break it out. Cover with plastic wrap, and press each ball into a flat round. If you don’t, then pull out that rolling-pin, and roll into about 2 – 2.5 in diameter rounds. Not too thin as the filling will poke out.
- Take the pressed dough, and place it in the palm of your hand. If it shrunk, then no problem, just give it another press or a quick roll. Spoon about 2 tsp of filling into the center of the disk. As you fold up the sides, pinch together, and as you rotate, push the filling into the pocket you are creating until you close. Once all the edges have been gathered and pressed together, give it a slight twist, and then put seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Repeat until all the rounds are now buns. Then move on to the second 1/2 and repeat starting at step 10.
- Then let sit for about 15 – 20 minutes so they “proof” or rise again. They are ready when you poke your finger and the indent does not spring right back.
- Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash (whisked egg).
- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the outside of the buns are a toasted brown and the center is piping hot. remove from the baking sheet onto a cooling rack. Let cool slightly before serving. Or let come to room temp, package up and freeze. Reheat at 350 until the center is hot, about 20 – 30 minutes if frozen. They will last in the fridge for about a week.
Let your imagination and tastes take you to mix it up for you or your families each taste.