Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bierocks

Meat buns.

They have all sorts of different names. I always called them humbows. Apparently, they can also be called bierocks.

As a child, humbows were special treats. Sometimes Mom would take us to Portland and give us kids the honour of requesting the humbows from the circulating dim sum carts. Sometimes the honour would come in the San Francisco Chinatown. Later, in those sweet adult years of the immediately post-college, first fulltime job phase, I used to take a long lunch break to walk down to the Pike Place Market in Seattle and lunch from the humbow shop (with a detour through the flower stalls, then along the water, towards a preferred coffeeshop so that I could enjoy the return stroll to the office with a steaming latte).

In any event, and through all venues and eras, humbows were always, simultaneously, treat and honour.

So, yesterday, flipping through cookbooks trying to figure out how best to cook up the pork ($3.30 for a pound) and the cilantro ($.69 a bunch) that I picked up at New Sagaya, I was very pleased to stumble across the recipe for Mennonite bierocks in my Saveur America cookbook.

Admittedly, bierocks don't have the barbequed pork in plum sauce that I love so much about humbows, and the dough is a little heavier and less sweet, but the idea of the bierock is the fabulous and comforting same as the humbow: meat in a bun.

They are astonishing quick to prepare. The dough has short rising times, and the meat browns quickly. And the whole time that I was kneading and browning and assembling, I was entertained by the fun notion that J. might wake up one morning to find that the Kodiak sun is boisterously holding back the Kodiak rain clouds, and want to jump out of bed and hike to the top of a mountain and back again before the fates switch favours. Given the speed in which Kodiak fates can switch favours, I notioned that he might not even want to delay long enough to make one of his delicious salami sandwiches for the hike. So instead, in my kneading, browning and assembling notions, J was simply grabbing a bierock out of the freezer, stuffing it into his pack, and by the time he had clamoured to the top of his sunny Kodiak destination, the bierock was thawed and, as he prefers his trail sandwiches to be, slightly smushed.

If served right out of the oven, though, they are warm and filling. And after the teasing aroma of their baking, it is hard to restrain one's self from tearing into one as soon as they are pulled out of the oven.

Of course, I can't follow a recipe. So I put cardamom into the dough. And made the filling with: ground pork, carmalized onions, leeks, asiago cheese, corn, and a hefty dollop of the homemade mustard made by a colleague (also a corporate lawyer) that won last year's blue ribbon at the Alaska State Fair.

By the way, I still have that bunch of cilantro, if anyone has any ideas on what I could make with it that would survive the winter of my freezer until I see J..

On a second by the way, yesterday was the official day of Spring....in other words, I am enjoying just as much daylight as everyone else everywhere else and each day that arrives will give me even more sunlight as everyone else. I don't mean to be competitive. Seriously. It's more a revelry. Most importantly, it is a revelry not just of the sunlight but also the confirmation that I survived my first Alaskan winter. There are few accomplishments I am more proud of.

Bierocks stuffed with Pork, Leeks and Blue Ribbon Mustard
(recipe to follow)

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good recipe. Is it posted somewhere?

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