Cuban Pork Buns

One of the perks of being married to someone who works in a restaurant is that sometimes restaurants give or trade samples of their food. So the other night, Ben came home with some Cuban pulled pork. After eating some of it with rice, I decided that we could use the leftover pork for pork buns.

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On the advice of my brother, I am calling these Cuban pork buns. But honestly, if someone were to serve them to me, I wouldn’t be able to say that there’s something Cuban about the meat filling. But still they are good. In my opinion. But it’s hard to go wrong with Cuban pulled pork surrounded by a soft bread bun.

Cuban Pork Buns (based on this recipe from I Made That!)

ingredients for pork filling:

1/2 pound Cuban pulled pork, prepared (either leftover or from your favorite Cuban pulled pork recipe)

1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar

pinch of salt and black pepper

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, powdered

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water

Combine brown sugar with salt and black pepper, orange juice, cumin, and oregano. Stir to dissolve sugar and set aside.

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In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped green onions and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the pork and combine well. Pour brown sugar/soy sauce mixture, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, or until heated through. Meanwhile, add the apple cider vinegar to the cornstarch water mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. Make sure cornstarch is dissolved. Add to pork and cook for another minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture looks like something you can shape into mounds. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool before using as filling.

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for dough:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

2 ounces unsalted butter

2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

2.5 Tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F)

1 egg

2.5 Tablespoons sugar

12.5 ounces AP flour

1 egg, beaten

2 Tablespoons honey with 2 Tablespoons water

Melt butter with milk over medium heat, stove top, in small saucepan, and set aside to cool to 110 degrees F. Set aside.

In small bowl, place yeast and 2.5 T warm water, let bloom, bubbly, about 5minutes.

When milk/butter mixture is ready to use (not hot), add to yeast/water, whisking to blend.

In large bowl, whisk flour and sugar, combine thoroughly. and make a well in the center. Add egg, milk/yeast mixture, and pinch of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms, adding one Tablespoon of water at a time, only if dough is too dry. You want it to be smooth, slightly sticky, and able to pick up flour from sides of bowl. On floured surface, continue to knead into a smooth ball that springs back when you press your finger into the dough.

Lightly oil a clean bowl and turn dough around in bowl to coat with the oil. Put plastic wrap over the bowl and place bowl in warm, draft-free location. 45 minutes to rise, or until doubled.

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper before assembly.

Punch down and knead dough a few times. Form into ball shape and divide in half. You will work in half of the dough at a time. The half you are not working with should be wrapped in plastic to prevent drying.

Using half the dough, roll into a 12-inch log. You will need to divide the dough into 8 pieces. To do this, first cut into two six-inch pieces, then divide each 6-inch piece into 4 equal parts. Use a scale if you want to be sure each piece is equal.

Press down with the palm of your hand on the top of each piece of dough to form into 3.5 inch discs, with each disc slightly thinner at the edges or rim of each disc. I used a lid that was 3.5 inches in diameter to make the shape.

Place in one hand to cup dough and place one slightly heaping tablespoon of meat and with hand, form into a cup shape and press edges together to seal with other hand. Place sealed side down on parchment covered baking sheet. Cover with clean towel and let rest for about 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When ready to bake, brush each bun with egg, and place in oven for about 18 minutes. I placed both baking sheets in the oven, rotating each pan at about half time, 9 minutes. When ready, let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet on rack. Before serving, brush with honey/water mixture.

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Enjoy!

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