In Boston, we were a part of something I dearly loved and miss every day - a meat share program through Chestnut Farms. Each month we picked up a cooler full of delicious, farm-raised meat. Opening the cooler was like opening a box from under the Christmas tree - half the fun of the meat share cooler was the surprise of what you received. In addition to the usual cuts of chicken, beef, and pork, sometimes you'd open the cooler to find get a package of breakfast sausages or maple-glazed bacon... and the next month you might get goat.
There certainly are meat shares that I could join in Colorado, but instead we started a new tradition. My parent's have friends who own and run a ranch and we purchase a steer each year that we share with a few other friends. As of last week, my freezer is overloaded with 70 pounds of various cuts of beef. Each is nicely labeled with the cut of meat and we are particularly flush with ground beef which is great as we head into grilling season.
We hosted friends for dinner on Saturday night and I wrote to say that we "have a freezer full of beef" and that we'd grill hamburgers for dinner. I didn't provide any context, which was clearly a mistake... I left our friend M wondering if we were just weird meat hoarders or just addicted to red meat. As I was prepping food for dinner, I realized we didn't have any hamburger buns. It was raining and grey and I just couldn't motivate to go to the store... so I made them instead!
There is something so satisfying about baking bread. These simple ingredients come together to form something magnificent! I suspect you have everything you need to whip up these buns in your pantry and refrigerator (and if you don't have sesame seeds, just omit them - most fell off the buns anyway). Even better, I love making things at home that you normally buy at the store (e.g., mascarpone cheese, ricotta, graham crackers). That reminds me that I read about a cookbook entitled The Homemade Pantry: 101 Food You can Stop Buying and Start Making. Does anyone have this cookbook? It has been added to my wish list...
Note that when you make these, you need to allow five hours from when you start the buns to when you want to eat them. There is very little active time, but they need to rise twice.
Homemade Sesame Seed Buns
Yield = 12 buns
Recipe from Issue #122 of Saveur
1 1⁄4-oz. package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 1⁄3 cups milk, heated to 115°
1 1⁄2 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
4 cups flour
1 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" cubes, softened
Canola oil, for greasing
3 tsp. sesame seeds
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, stir together yeast, milk, and 1 1⁄2 tsp. sugar; let foam. Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt, and egg. Mix on low speed until dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook; add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Heat oven to 400°. Divide dough into 12 portions; shape each into a tight ball. Place balls on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Lightly brush balls with oil; cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 1⁄2 hours.
Uncover dough and, using a spray bottle filled with water, moisten dough; sprinkle each ball with 1⁄4 tsp. sesame seeds, being careful not to deflate the buns. Bake, rotating once, until golden brown, 18–20 minutes. Let cool.
Tonight I used the remaining hamburger buns that I previously froze. I let them thaw at room temperature for about an hour and re-heated them in the oven at 250 degrees. They weren't as good as they were fresh out of the oven (no surprise) but they were still quite tasty.