A guest post by Mrs. Esquire
The perfect accompaniment to pulled pork
My husband, BBQ Esquire, has perfected his Big Green Egg pulled pork and Carolina sauce since he first started “egging.” He presides over the grill, and I take control when it comes to baking. So as he honed in on just the right method for his pork, I had to develop the perfect bun to go along with it. We often serve his pulled pork without a bun, or with a simple slice of one of my hearth breads. However, hearth bread is a little overpowering for pulled pork, and I knew a bun or biscuit type product would yield a better result.
While this blog is all about the Big Green Egg, I make these buns in our oven inside to accompany the meat cooked on the BGE. I am certain you could experiment making these on your Egg by trading the baking sheet for a pizza stone, dropping the temperature a few degrees, and extending the bake time a little. We haven’t tried this yet. It would be an ideal situation for a family with more than one Big Green Egg in the backyard!
It starts with a scone
The basic concept for my buns to accompany BBQ Esquire’s pulled pork comes from a family recipe passed down from my grandmother and great aunts. My dad’s family lived as subjects of the British crown, and afternoon and evening tea parties were a part of their family tradition. Families would call on each other, often unplanned. The host would quickly whip up a batch of scones. Starting with this scone recipe means this bun cooks up quickly and easily, with simple ingredients you often have on hand.
But I love to experiment and try new things, so I made some adaptions from my family recipe, creating more of a biscuit and less of a scone. Of course I cut the raisins, I backed out the sugar, and I added a dash of salt. And by substituting all the butter in the recipe with duck fat, this suddenly became the perfect flavor compliment to the Carolina style pulled pork.
The perfect bun for your Big Green Egg pulled pork
2 1/2 cups flour, plus one additional handful to roll out dough
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 dash of sea salt
1/2 cup duck fat (see next section on sourcing)
1 cup milk
Mix all dry ingredients. Add in milk, fat, and egg and quickly stir by hand until you have worked out most of the lumps. Do not over-stir or your buns will not rise. Roll the dough out and pat it flat to a 1/2 inch or so thick. Sprinkle a handful of flour over the top to make handling easier. Cut out circular buns with a small biscuit cutter or juice glass. Arrange on a stoneware baking pan with edges touching. I no longer have to grease my stoneware pan because it is well seasoned, but consider coating your baking surface with oil, butter, or duck fat if needed. Bake at 400° F for 15 minutes.
Separate the individual buns, and slice them in half horizontally. Fill them up with pulled pork and enjoy.
Did you say duck fat? I thought this was supposed to be simple.
If you do not have access to duck fat, substituting butter will work, though you will sacrifice flavor. You can find duck fat in some specialty grocery stores. I skimmed my own duck fat, and it is not as complicated as it sounds. We occasionally cook whole duck in our slow cooker. After you serve the duck you are left with a lot of juice in the bottom of the cooker. Strain it, and let it cool. The fat will rise to the top. I skim it off and save it in mason jars until I need it for a recipe like this.
We’d love to hear what you think about this. Did you try it with any substitutions? Has anyone tried this in the Big Green Egg? Tell us your experience if you try these out.
Hello, BBQ Esquire Community
Allow me to introduce myself: Mrs. Esquire here. My husband, BBQ Esquire, is our family grill master, but I work on the prep side of some of our BGE collaborations. My hands made a cameo on the blog in the Turducken post, and I did the camera work in the Caveman Grilling video. I hope to share my experience with some of our shared BGE creations, most of which involve baking.
Use your Big Green Egg to bake delicious hearth bread
In a small urban town home like ours, outsourcing some of your baking to the backyard can make entertaining easier, and it allows you to use the space in the kitchen for other projects. Skip heating up your oven when your house is already packed with people, and skip piling up bread pans in the sink when you already have a bunch of dishes to do. Hearth bread refers to loaves baked directly in a wood fired oven, or on stoneware. These breads are rustic, freeform, and thick-crusted.
One aside about my baking technique: I love cookbooks and I love recipes. However, most of the time I do not actually follow them. I use recipes, and the gorgeous photos that often accompany them, as a starting point for an idea. I make liberal substitutions, imprecise measurements, and add in my own “flair”. It’s a little like the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show when I get going in the kitchen. Have you ever seen that guy use a measuring cup?
Many of my creations are one-time-only inventions, and I cannot recreate them. But, I do use certain recipes regularly as my starting off point for a particular dish or item. In the case of hearth bread, I always refer back to a recipe published in Gourmet Magazine in May 2008 for a Georgian cheese bread. I have made this recipe in my oven following the actual method. It makes a delicious bread. But I also use the concept and a rough interpretation of the ingredients to make hearth breads in the Big Green Egg.
The recipe that inspires my BGE creations
Georgian Cheese Bread
Adapted from Natia Gigani
Caucasus Travel Ltd., Republic of Georgia
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4-ounce package)
- 7 tablespoons warm water (105-115°F)
- 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 pound Havarti cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/4 pound salted mozzarella, coarsely grated
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir in 1 tablespoon flour. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast does not activate, start over with new yeast.) Stir together salt and remaining flour in a large bowl, then stir in egg and yeast mixture to form a dough. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and turn to coat with flour, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and dust with flour. Let dough rest in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, punching down with a wet fist every hour, at least 2 hours and up to 3.
Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
Turn out dough onto floured pizza pan, turning to coat, then flatten with your fingers into a 7-inch disk. Toss together cheeses and press into a compact 3-inch ball with your hands. Place ball in middle of dough, then gather dough up around ball of cheese, squeezing excess dough into a topknot. Press down on topknot with a damp fist to press cheese out from center. Continue to flatten dough and distribute cheese evenly, pressing outward from center, until dough is an 11-inch disk. Cut a 6-inch X through top of dough to expose cheese. Bake until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush surface of dough with butter and bake until golden and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve cut into wedges.
And now for the change-up
So the recipe I just listed is my inspiration. I make all kinds of adjustments and substations.
For the slice of bread pictured here, I didn’t have nearly enough cheese on hand, so I used what I had, making the cheese more like a little garnish in the center rather than a major flavor contributor as it is in the original recipe. I substituted about 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour . I substituted tolive oil for butter. Because I had significantly less cheese, BBQ Esquire cooked the loaf lower and slower than the recipe calls for (375°F as opposed to 500°F, at least double the recommended cook time, or until the crust is browning). BBQ Esquire set the grill with the plate setter legs down and the stone set on top of a spacer, such as the little Big Green Egg feet.
This bread won’t win any prizes at the state fair. It was imperfect and strangely shaped, but it was absolutely delicious and fun to bake. It is fun to experiment, so I hope you can use the basics of this Georgian Cheese bread as a starting point for your BGE creations, too.