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Pulled pork brioche buns

So it’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2015. I’m not big on new year; I don’t make resolutions or feel the need to reinvent myself because the date is changing, although having a few quiet days at home over the Christmas holidays has given me chance to reflect a little as I mooch about the house. It’s nice to have a change of pace once in a while, to feel you have the time to do things properly and to enjoy the process, rather than rattling along getting things done, ticking off the list and dashing on to the next thing. It’s a feeling I’d like to have more often, so perhaps I’ll see if I can dedicate more of 2016 to taking my time over things.

This recipe is perhaps the definition of taking your time. There aren’t many recipes I’d recommend you start a day before you want to eat, but some things can’t be hurried. The inspiration for this came from a beef bun recipe I found online, but I was feeding non-beef eaters the day I made these and so the pork made a very successful substitute. It strikes me as I write this, that maybe these would have been an ideal new years party recipe, but they would certainly be a welcome addition to any weekend with friends or family.

So you have two jobs the evening before you want to eat – making the brioche dough and cooking the pork. This won’t take more than 45mins or so, but it’s a necessary investment of time to allow the dough to rise and the pork to cool.

I used a 1kg supermarket pack of BBQ pulled pork for this. It comes ready marinated and only needs 1 hour to cook, which is ideal for this recipe. They have them in both of my local supermarkets, although you could start from scratch and marinade and slow roast some pork shoulder instead.

Start by cooking the pork according to the instructions or follow your favourite pulled pork recipe. Then weigh 75g pearl barley, place in a saucepan and cover with plenty of boiling water and simmer for around an hour, until completely tender.

Next make the brioche dough. Dissolve 7g dried yeast in 130ml luke warm water. Add 1 tsp sugar and leave to activate for 10 minutes. Place 500g plain white flour into a large mixing bowl with 10g salt and a further 50g caster sugar. Pour in the yeast mixture and add 4 eggs then stir to combine. You should have a sticky dough. Knead the dough, either by hand or using the dough hook in a food processor, for around 10 minutes until you have have a smooth glossy dough. Then add 120g very soft butter and knead for a further 5 minutes. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour, but not too much or the dough will become dry. Once kneaded, place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and pop it into the fridge.

When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and shed the meat with two forks, removing any fatty bits. I weighed the meat at this point and there was about 500g. Place into a bowl and stir through five finely chopped spring onions and the drained cooked pearl barley. Measure the juice left in the bottom of the roasting tin and add up to 200ml to the pork mixture to keep it moist. Cover and leave to chill overnight.

imageAbout two hours before you want to eat, take the brioche and the pork out of the fridge. Stir a bunch of chopped coriander through the pork and then roll spoonfuls of the mixture into small balls, a little smaller than a golf ball. The mixture should be very thick after the night in the fridge so should hold together nicely. Mine just seem to get bigger and bigger the more I make. You should get around 30 balls out of the mixture. Place them on a tray and refrigerate if necessary, to firm them up again.


imageLightly flour your hands and your work surface then take a small ball of the brioche dough, about the same size as the pork balls. Gently flatten it between your palms and then stretch it around one of your pork balls. Pinch the edges to seal the meat in and then place on a non-stick baking tray. Repeat until all of the balls are covered. Brush all over with a beaten egg then cover with cling film and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 110C (fan) and place a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven. Bake the buns for 15 minutes on this very low temperature before turning up the heat to 180C (fan) and baking for a further 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Allow to cool a little before serving.

Makes around 30. Takes 45 minutes the night before, plus 2 hours on the day you want to eat them.

Shopping list:

1kg piece of BBQ pulled pork

5 spring onions

75g pearl barley

small bunch coriander

500g plain white flour

7g dried yeast

65g caster sugar

5 eggs

120g butter

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