I love stuffed breads, whether you call them a samsa, a pasty, a samosa, or a bierock. While making them can be a lot of work—you are first making some kind of stew, letting it cool, making the dough, and then filling the dough with the stew, before baking them all together—the payoff is well worth the added labor. Packet breads are a convenient, grab-and-go meal for lunches and I usually get two, or even three, meals for three people out of one recipe.
These tasty pocket breads have become an almost weekly dish at our house. Last week, I made Moroccan bierocks. To keep things interesting, I have started to explore how many world cuisines I can stuff into a raised bread bun. Today, I am moving east to Persia (Iran).
Kūbide is a Persian mixture of lamb and beef, which usually has some onions and is frequently spiced with advieh. It is then shaped into a long sausage, grilled, and served plain with flat bread, sesame sauce, and fresh cilantro, mint, and onions. I am going to take great liberties with the original recipe to fit everything into a pocket bread.
Note: I have been juggling my proportions of bread to filling. While one quarter of a cup of filling was a bit skimpy, a third of a cup was hard to wrap the dough around. I have increased my amounts of flour and milk to make the wrappers just a bit larger.
Karl’s Kūbide Bierocks
3 cups bread flour
1+ cup AP flour
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1½ cups milk
2 tsp. active dry yeast
4+ Tbs. butter, separate uses
½ lb. beef, ground
½ lb. lamb, ground
2 Tbs. red onion, micro-grated
4 cloves garlic, micro-grated
2 Tbs. hot water
2+ Tbs. advieh, separate uses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. rose petals
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. coriander
½ tsp. ginger, powdered
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅛ tsp. cardamom (seeds of 4 pods)
⅛ tsp. cloves (three whole cloves)
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup red onion, finely dice
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cilantro, separate uses
½ cup fresh mint
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup hot water
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch Kosher salt
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 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 four 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.
13. While the dough is rising, put the beef, lamb, grated onion, garlic, the hot water and one tablespoon of the advieh into a mixing bowl and blend them together.
Tip: The hot water warms the fat and makes the meat easier to mix thoroughly.
Note: Put all of the advieh ingredients into a spice grinder and process to a powder.
14. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
15. Separate the leafy parts of the cilantro and put them aside.
Tip: Do not mince the leave yet or they will start to wilt and brown.
16. Mince the cilantro stems and set them aside.
17. Melt one tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over a medium high heat.
18. 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.
19. Fry the patty for about ten minutes on one side, until crispy and well browned.
20. Turn the patty over and continue frying until well browned on the second side, about another 6-8 minutes.
21. Remove the meat patty to a plate to cool.
22. If necessary, deglaze the pan with a little water and then add the second tablespoon of butter to the pan.
23. Sauté the onions with the half a teaspoon of salt, until they are starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
Note: While the onions are cooking is a good time to break the meat patty into small bits.
Tip: Using two forks to break up the meat keeps your finger clean.
24. Add the diced red pepper and the cilantro stems to the onions..
25. Continue sautéing for 2-3 minutes.
26. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
27. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
28. Mix the garlic into the vegetables and pull them to the sides of the pan again.
29. Add the remaining spice blend to the pan and cook it, stirring, for about two minutes.
Note: Cooking the spices like this is called blooming.
30. Fold the meat into the vegetables and stir a quarter cup of water into the pan.
31. Cook the meat mixture for another two minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.
32. While the stew is cooling, prepare the greens and sesame sauce.
33. Mince the cilantro leaves and mint and stir them into the cool stew.
Tip: The idea here is to cook these greens as little as possible.
34. Put the tahini, hot water, lemon , garlic, and salt into a small bowl and whisk the mixture until smooth.
Note: As time passes the sesame paste will absorb the liquids and thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick, whisk in a little more hot water.
35. When the stew is completely cool, stir the sesame sauce into the meat mixture.
Note: How much you should add is a personal choice. I used most of it and my wife thought it was just right. My daughter, on the other hand, would have preferred less.
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.
38. Stretch the outside surface around and push the point of the pie slice into the center of the balls.
39. Lay the balls down with the crimped side down.
40. 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.
41. Place one third 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 ⅓ 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.
Note: If you read my other bierock recipes I have alternated on how much filling to add to each rapper. One Quarter of a cup is easier to wrap without tearing the wrapper as you try to seal it. While wrapping a third of a cup of filling can be a struggle, it produces a much more satisfactory bread to filling ratio after it is baked.
42. 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.
43. Lay the finished bierock on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Note: I find that I need two large lipped baking sheets to do 12 bierocks.
44. Let the bierock rise for 20 minutes.
Note: Do not let the dough rise too long or your bread layer may collapse.
45. Bake the bierocks for 25-30 minutes in a preheated 350º F oven.
Tip: Rotate the tray after 15 minutes, so that they bake evenly.
46. Transfer the bierock to a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool.
Note: The bierocks are tasty both warm and cold.