Monday, September 13, 2010

Smoking time

Smoking time in the new smoker! I got an inexpensive charcoal/wood smoker at Home Depot over the weekend and smoked a shoulder from the pasture raised pig I bought about a month ago. It was my first attempt to smoke something instead of grill it and I think it turned out pretty well. The smoke ring was about 1/2 inch into the pork and it tasted amazing. I meant to take a picture of it but didn't remember that plan once that shoulder finally came out of the smoker and it was time to eat!

Tonight - using the left overs I made some Asian Pork Buns. They turned out really well. I chopped up some of the left over shoulder, cooked down the pan drippings from the smoking process, added a little soy sauce and used that for the filling. I thought about using regular barbecue sauce and making them like pulled pork inside - but the smoke flavor was so good I hated to cover it up with barbecue sauce. The dough is a fairly simple to make -

  • 10 Tbsp milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large egg beaten (for dough)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg beaten (for egg wash)

Warm milk and butter together in a microwave safe bowl just until butter melts. In a medium sized bowl, put the 2 Tbsp water and the yeast and allow the yeast to soften. Whisk the egg in a bowl and add the warm milk and butter to the egg. Add the mixture to the yeast. In a sifter combine flour, sugar and salt and sift into the liquid mixture.

Stir until the dough comes together, then turn out on a lightly floured board and knead. You may need to sprinkle with a light dusting of flour to keep it from sticking - but use as little flour as possible. knead about 5 minutes and then put dough in a oiled bowl (turn to coat the dough lightly with oil), cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour in a warm place.

When the dough has risen and the filling is ready punch it down and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 12 inch log and cut each into 4-6 even pieces. roll the pieces into balls and press them flat and spread them out to about 4 inches across. The dough should be thicker in the middle than around the edges. Place 2-3 Tbsp of the filling in the center and pull the edges up together over the dough into a purse shape and pinch all of the seams together. Put filled bun seam side down on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Continue until all the buns are done. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of rising preheat the oven to 350. Before putting the buns in the oven - brush the tops with egg wash. Baking time depends a little on the size of the buns you make - generally 15-20 minutes is all it takes for the buns to become deep golden brown on top and sound slightly hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.

I have had similar buns with a sweet red bean filling - I am hoping to find a good recipe for those and try them next. The great thing about the little buns is that you can freeze them for up to a month or refrigerate them for a week - simply rewarm in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes and they are ready to pop in a lunch box - no mess and nothing can fall out of the nice neat little package. I am going to experiment with some other fillings too - maybe Teriyaki chicken or ground pork with cabbage and ginger (like pot sticker filling) - I think you could even make lovely ones with grilled veggies inside.

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