Friday, July 18, 2008

Barbecue Pork Buns

Back in late May, Tina at Mommy's Kitchen posted a recipe for Bacon Cheeseburger Buns. Oh my, they looked good. I knew I had to make some. My sous chef, James Jr., wanted to help. How could I resist?

So, I set about making the filling for the buns. Since I had a bunch of BBQ sauce from my Barbecue Sauce Showdown, I figured that I'd make some BBQ pork buns. How can you go wrong with that, right?

Pork Filling
  • 1 kg pork tenderloin
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups BBQ sauce
Fortunately, pork tenderloin is very reasonably priced here (about P220 per kilo right now, that's about US$2.30 per pound). So, I get to cook with it a lot. I cut up a kilo of pork tenderloin into small pieces and diced a few small Philippine onions.

I tossed the pork and onion into an oven-safe dish and mixed them together thoroughly. I then added enough of the BBQ sauce to cover (this should be about half of the BBQ sauce). Again, I mixed the sauce in thoroughly. While messy, I find doing this with your hands works best. You can cover everything very well that way. Baked at 275F (135C) for about an hour. Stirring every 15 minutes.

Once out of the oven, strain the pork and onions of the juices in the dish. Let cool. Once lukewarm, add the remaining BBQ sauce. This helps boost the BBQ flavor of the dish.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter (to brush finished rolls)
Heat the milk in a sauce pan over a low flame. Heat until small bubbles begin to form (steam will start coming off just before this phase). Once up to heat, turn off the flame. Add the 1/2 cup of butter and sugar, stir until both are dissolved. Allow this mixture to cool until lukewarm.

Once cooled, add the yeast, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and four cups of the flour. Mix everything together. Then, add a half cup at a time of the remaining flour until all ingredients are combined thoroughly. Knead for 8-10 minutes. I used the bread hook on my stand mixer. I found that I had to add a little more flour (about a half cup) to get the right consistency. The dough should feel silky and not sticky.

Get a large bowl, give it a quick spray with some oil. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled. Once of the nice things about living in the Philippines is that every place is warm enough for dough to rise.

Once risen, punch it down and divide into twelve equal pieces. I used a digital kitchen scale to do this. Made the job easy and accurate.

The recipe from Mommy's Kitchen called for rolling each of these pieces into a round, putting filling on top, and then putting a second round piece of dough on top of it all, sealing it up, and baking it. OK, easy enough.

I did that with a test bun. We ended up with these monster, plate-filling buns. Seemed a bit too big to me. So, I cut each of the eleven remaining pieces in half, and rolled those halves out. I rolled them out fairly then, to about 1/8 inch thick.

I then spread a layer of the pork filling onto one of the rolled out pieces, leaving approximately a one inch border around the filling to allow me to seal the bun. I placed the second rolled out piece on top of the piece with the filling and pinched-then-rolled all the way around the outside, sealing the two together. Be careful here, as you don't want to squeeze the insides and cause a BBQ sauce geyser. Trust me on this.

Once sealed, gently pick up your ready-to-cook stuffed bun, turn it over, and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You'll want to neaten up the bun a little, get it to be more round. You can easily do this just by pressing inwards on the outside of it. Very easy. Six will fit comfortably on a half-sized baking sheet. Cover the buns with a towel and let them sit for about 30 minutes to rise a second time.

Put your buns in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F (175C). You want them to look slightly cooked, but not getting too brown. When you take the buns out, immediately brush them liberally with melted butter (this is what gives them that gorgeous brown color on top).

Let them cool to the point where you aren't going to scorch your mouth ... then devour accordingly.

Test Results

Primary Test Group: well liked. The liquid smoke used in the BBQ sauce was a flavor not exactly liked by a couple of testers, even though it was very, very mild. Still, buns were eaten quickly and without hesitation.

Test Group M: Winner. Eaten quickly.

Test Group C: Marasa. Only one complaint ... I didn't bring enough testing material. Next time they want more.

Potential Improvements

Next time, I'll marinate the pork overnight in the BBQ sauce. That will provide even more of the flavor.

Potential Variations

I definitely want to make a bacon cheeseburger version like on Mommy's Kitchen. I also want to try ham-and-cheese. Unfortunately, finding good ham here is hard. I may have to make my own.


Definitely a great base recipe. Tastes good, relatively easy, dough seems bullet-proof.

Thanks Tina!


Tina Butler said...

Those buns look beautiful. I to had a problem with some of the filling coming out of the sides. I found i just had to add less filling and work with the bun and seal it really good. I may try to roll one round and add the filling to one side and take the other half side over and seal the dough. Maybe that way might work out.

James said...

That's really the one hard part with these ... sealing it properly.