Readers of my blog may be beginning to feel that I am in a rut with so many bierock recipes, but these pocket breads are really good and open to a wide variety of fillings. Wife Jan did not like boring German bierocks—beef, onion, and cabbage in a raised bread wrapper. When she found Volga German bierocks she changed she mind—seasonings are good. She then asked that I make Uyghar bierocks—while she like there she would have preferred that I had used chicken rather than lamb. This morning she asked for chicken curry bierocks.
Karl’s Chicken Curry Bierocks
2 cups bread flour
1 cup+ AP flour
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp. active dry yeast
4+ Tbs. butter, separate uses
1 lb. chicken thighs, boneless skinless
2½ Tbs. Madras curry powder, separate uses
2 Tbs. ghee or butter
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
6 oz. baby spinach, blanched and chopped
1 Tbs. garam masala
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup plain yogurt ( I used Fage 2%)
1. Put the dry ingredients— flours, sugar, and salt—into a sifter and blend them together well.
Tip: I re-sift the dry mixture several times.
2. Put the milk in a large measuring cup and microwave it for one minute.
Tip: Some low powered microwaves may take longer. You want the milk warm, but not boiling.
3. Put the yeast into a small cup and add in ¼ cup of the milk.
4. Stir and let the yeast proof for 10 minutes.
Tip: If your yeast is good there should be a good head of foam covering the mixture after this time. If there is not, discard and buy new yeast.
5. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the milk.
Tip: This both melts the butter and cools off the milk. You want it to be cool enough that it does not cook the eggs when you add them to the milk.
6. Scramble the eggs into the milk.
7. Make a “well” in the flour and add the yeast mixture, milk/butter/egg mixture.
8. Pull the flour from the sides of the “well” into the wet ingredients.
9. When the flour in the bowl is mostly incorporated, turn the dough out onto a well-floured smooth surface.
Tip: Put about half a cup of flour on the board.
Note: I prefer to make my initial dough a bit wet. It is easier to knead more flour into a wet dough than to add liquid to a dough that is too dry.
10. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
11. Add rub the dough bowl with some melted butter and rub the top of the dough ball in the butter.
12. Turn the dough over and cover the bowl with a smooth, clean, damp, kitchen towel.
Tip: Place the bowl in a warm place for one hour.
Note: Do not use a terrycloth towel, the dough might stick to it as it rises and be hard to remove.
Chicken curry filling
13. While the dough is rising, cut the chicken thighs into small pieces—¼ x ½ inch pieces.
Tip: Blot the chicken dry, before you cut up the meat. You are using a dry rub in this recipe and you want as little moisture as possible, so that when you fry the chicken you get a good amount of browning.
14. Put the chicken in a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle 1½ tablespoons of curry powder over the pieces.
Tip: Mix the spice in well to coat each piece of the chicken.
15. Let the meat marinate for 20-40 minutes, in the refrigerator.
16. Melt two tablespoons of ghee in a large pan over medium high heat.
17. Form the meat into a single large patty, about half an inch thick.
Note: While I have used this America’s Test Kitchen technique many times with ground meats, this is the first time I tried doing it with coarsely chopped chicken. I think it turned out rather well.
18. Fry the patty for about ten minutes on one side, until crispy and well browned.
19. Turn the patty over and continue frying until well browned on the second side, about another 6-8 minutes.
20. Remove the meat patty to a plate to cool.
21. Spoon out all but two tablespoons of the grease from the pan.
Tip: Reserve the grease for later.
22. If necessary, deglaze the pan with a little water and then add the onions.
24. Sauté the onions with half of the salt until they are starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
25. Add the cabbage and the rest of the salt to the pan and mix the onions and cabbage together.
26. Add one tablespoon of water to the pan and cover the pan.
Tip: Steaming the cabbage reduces its volume considerably and allows more contact between the cabbage and the surface of the pan.
27. After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid and sprinkle on the rest of the curry powder.
28. Continue sautéing the vegetables until they are soft, about another 5 minutes.
Tip: Stir the cabbage frequently, so that it cooks evenly and does not scorch from resting against the hot pan for too long.
29. While the cabbage is cooking, break the chicken patty into small bits.
Tip: Using two forks to break up the meat keeps your finger clean.
30. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center.
Tip: Add some more ghee or some of the reserve grease to the garlic, if necessary.
31. Stir the garlic into the vegetables and add chopped tomatoes and the spinach.
Tip: When I de-seed the tomatoes, I scrape the seeds into a sieve and push the jelly into a bowl—much of the tomato flavor is in this jelly, but I need to remove the seeds for medical reasons. I then add the dices tomatoes to the bowl and—when you are ready—add them all together.
Note: to blanch the spinach, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the spinach. Cook the spinach for two minutes and then drain off the hot water. Fill the pot with cool water and add the spinach to keep it from over cooking. Drain the spinach again and squeeze the spinach dry. This will leave you with a “pill” of cooked spinach. Slice this “pill” up finely and break the shreds apart.
32. Continue cooking the mixture for another 3-4 minutes and then stir in the garam masala and black pepper.
Note: I have read many curry recipes that add the garam masala at the beginning of cooking with the curry powder. This is a serious mistake. Garam masala is a finishing spice. The fragrant volatile chemicals cook off during a long cooking period. Adding these spices as late as possible allows the dish to smell as good as it tastes.
33. Fold in the spice into the meat/cabbage mixture.
34. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
35. When the mix is cool fold in the yogurt and then prepare the wrappers.
Preparing the dough wrappers
36. Punch down the dough and divide it into portions.
Tip: How many portions you make with your dough is your choice. I found that dividing the dough into 16 portions, produced thin walled bierock that were not enough for a meal by themselves. This time I divided the dough into 12 pieces—lay the dough out on your work surface in a flat circle and use a board scrapper to divided the dough into four quarters. Divide each quarter into three even pie slices.
37. Divide the dough into 12 portions and pull in the sides into to make 12 dough balls.
Tip: This is a raised dough that depends on gluten sheets for its “lift.” When you cut your dough, there will be an outside surface—smooth—and two “cut” surfaces—covered in bubble holes. Stretch the outside surface around and push the point of the pie slice into the center of the balls. Lay the balls down with the crimped side down.
38. On a lightly floured board, take a dough ball with the “crimped” side up and roll it into a disk about 7 inches in diameter.
Tip: Flour the rolling pin as well.
Note: You want to leave a flat hump in the middle of the dough with the outer edges tapering down to a fairly thin sheet of dough. If you roll out the dough into a flat disk the top of the bierock will be very thin and the bottom very thick as you gather the outer edges of the disk over the filling. By leaving the middle thick and the edges thin, they even out to make a bun with the filling in the middle.
39. Place one quarter of a cup of filling in the center of the disk.
Tip: The meat mixture in the pan is fairly loose. I found—that by using a spatula and a ¼ cup measure—I could pack the filling down and place it in a tight packet in the middle of the dough. This made it easier to wrap the dough around the filling.
40. Pull the edges of the dough over the filling and twist then together.
Tip: Pick up the two opposite edges of the dough and pinch them at the top with one hand. Pick up the other two edges and bring them to the top. You will have four folds of dough sticking out from the sides. Pull each of these to the top, in turn and pinch and twist them together. Lay the bierock on the counter sealed side down and cup your hands around it and gently rotate the tough to further twist the dough. use your hands to gently form the dough into an even “bun” shape.
Note: Closing up the bierock video.
41. Lay the finished bierock on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
42. Let the bierock rise for 20 minutes.
Note: Do not let the dough rise too long or your bread layer may collapse.
43. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350º F oven.
Tip: Rotate the tray after 15 minutes, so that they bake evenly.
44. Transfer the bierock to a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool.
Note: The bierock are tasty both warm and cold.