Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steam Your Buns Off!

I'm not going to natter on in this post.  We just don't have time for storytelling when it's already mid-November...with American Thanksgiving just a week away.  Maybe it's just me but time seems to be accelerating, with each successive new year racing behind us with lightening speed when we've only just celebrated the last.  And that it's 2012 coming in for a landing, Mayan doom prophecies and apocalyptic John Cusack films dancing in my head, isn't making this holiday season any easier.

Buns.  Steamed and waiting for filling.

So I've spent the afternoon making steamed Chinese buns, in anticipation of Thanksgiving leftovers.  It may seem too soon to start my post-turkey day prep but believe me, you'll be thrilled to have these puppies waiting for you in the freezer with leftover turkey is languishing in the fridge.  The texture of Chinese steamed buns is so contrary to traditional Thanksgiving offerings that your roast bird will shine when nestled in these fluffy and gorgeously chewy buns.  And to mix it up entirely, pull and toss your turkey in homemade BBQ sauce and chop up some crispy slaw and your leftovers will easily outshine your Thanksgiving meal.  The chewy of the bun, the succulence of the turkey, the crispy spice of the slaw and the sweet comfort of the sauce will delight you and all your senses.


The Steamed Buns
makes 36
(inspired by Momofuku's gorgeous pork buns)


4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon  (1 and 1/3 packet) instant yeast
1 cup non-fat milk
1/2 cup of water (held in reserve)
1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup duck fat
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


•In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the hook attachment, add the non-fat milk, sweetened condensed milk and duck fat.

•In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  With the mixer running on slow, patiently add the flour mixture.  Mix for a few minutes and if the dough looks dry, slowly add the reserve water, adding just enough to form a smooth, soft dough that pulls from the sides of the bowl.  Mix until smooth and shiny, about 10 to 15 minutes.

•Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray and transfer your dough to the bowl.  Spray the top of the dough with non-stick spray as well and cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel.  Place the bowl in a warm corner of your kitchen to proof for about an hour  The dough should double in size.

•Punch down the dough and divide the dough into thirds.  Roll each third of dough into a rope and divide each rope into 9 EVEN pieces.  Weigh the pieces of dough if you must to make sure they are even.  Roll each piece into a tight ball and place on a sheetpan lined with parchment.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Allow your little dough balls to rest for a half hour.

•While the dough is resting, cut 36 small squares of parchment about 3" x 3" upon which you will rest your buns.

•With the heel of your palm, flatten the ball of dough and then using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an oval.  Place a chopstick, greased with a bit of duck fat, in the middle of the oval.  Fold the dough over to create a half-moon and press gently.  Remove the chopstick and place your bun on your pre-cut piece of tiny parchment.  Place the buns on a sheetpan and cover with plastic wrap as you work.  The buns dry out easily so keep them covered as you work.

•Once you've folded all of your buns and covered them with plastic, allow them to rest for 1/2 hour to rise a bit.

•Fill a wok with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place a bamboo steamer over the water.  Steam small batches of buns at a time.  I have a large bamboo steamer and place 5 buns on each level.  Steam for 11 minutes.


•Continue until you've steamed all your buns.  Put aside those buns that you are going to eat immediately. The rest, tightly seal in freezer safe Ziploc bags and freeze.  (To refresh the buns after freezing, allow to thaw in the fridge for a 1/2 hour and then steam for a few minutes in a bamboo steamer to perk them up again).

For the slaw


2 cups green cabbage, finely chopped
2 cups red cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small jar pimenton, juices drained, finely chopped
1/4 cup jarred jalapeños, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons jalapeño juice (from the jarred jalapeños)
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste


•Stir everything together.  Taste for seasoning.

For the BBQ sauce:


1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Balsamic glaze
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt to taste


•Stir BBQ ingredients together until smooth.
•Gently pull apart your remaining turkey meat from Thanksgiving into small, bite-sized pieces.  Stir together the sauce and turkey until the meat is coated.

To assemble:

•Gently split your buns and fill with a few tablespoons of pulled turkey and top with a few tablespoons of slaw.