Homemade burger, hot dog and slider buns

Slider buns just out of the oven

Inspired by Norwegian-American BBQ chef Craig Whitson and his book “Far
lukter svidd” (Daddy smells burnt), I started making my own hot dog, burger and slider buns many years ago. This is basically his recipe, and it’s pretty straight-forward. I also use these for any BBQ-based sandwiches (pulled pork for instance).

Be warned though – once you try homemade buns like these, you’re NEVER going back to storebought… I usually make a large batch (2-3x this recipe), put them straight in the freezer, they only need 1-2 hours to defrost and taste great. This recipe makes about 60 slider buns, 25 large hot dog buns or 19 burger buns.

Time: 2-3 hours (mostly waiting though)
Skill Level: Easy

You’re going to need:
1 kilo (2.2 pounds) wheat flour (about 1,4 liters worth if you don’t have a scale)
2 packets of dry yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2,5 dl (8,5 oz) milk
2,5 dl (8,5 oz) water
2 eggs
4 tbsp rapeseed or similar oil
1 egg white and 2 tbsp milk for brushing
Sesame seeds (or other seeds if you prefer) for sprinkling

How you do it:
Put all the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl and whisk them a little. Put milk and water in a microwaveable (!) container, and heat to about body temp (for once I avoided the temp conversion from C to F!). Whisk the two eggs and rapeseed oil thoroughly into the milk/water mixture. Pour water mixture slowly into dry stuff while mixing continuously at low speed. Once the dough starts forming, crank it up, and knead it for 5-10 minutes by machine. You’re all set, leave the dough covered to rise for about 45-60 minutes until it has doubled in size.

Now, knead the dough a little by hand to get the large air bubbles out and the small ones evenly distributed. Once that’s done, you can start making your buns. I like to use a scale, so I can get them all the same size. I use 30 grams for slider buns, 75 for large hot dog buns, and 100 grams for large burger buns.

Turn your oven to 200 degrees centigrade (390F). Roll out the buns, and then squeeze them pretty flat, about 1,5cm (half inch) thick. They rise quite a lot. Cover the trays of buns with kitchen towels, and leave to rise to double size, again about 45 minutes. Brush them with egg wash (milk+egg white), then sprinkle seeds on top. Bake them in the middle of the oven for 10-14 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack immediately to let them cool, before eating them or bagging and freezing them. Enjoy!

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Ember-roasted yams

Yams that have been roasted directly on the embers. Tasty!

This is maybe my all-time favorite side dish. It goes well with all meats, it’s healthier than potatoes, and it tastes fantastic. It really couldn’t be easier than putting something right on the coals and leaving it there. The burning of the outside gives the inside a lovely smokey flavor. Best trick ever!
Time: 45-60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: On the embers
Grill temperature: Doesn’t really matter as long as the coals are white-hot

You’ll need to get hold of:
Yams
(Optional) Butter, garlic, herbs for a herb butter

Yams that have been roasted directly on the embers. Yes I have moved them to the grate for the photo. Don’t do that before they’re finished.

How you do it:

  • No washing or prep needed, because you’re burning the outside to a crisp anyway
  • Just chuck your yams directly on the white-hot coals, turn them every 10-15 minutes until they have a nice, ashy, burnt finish on all sides
  • Prick them with a knife to check they’re nice and soft all the way through
  • Slice in two with a sharp knife, make a garlic or herb butter, mash it up a bit with a fork, and eat!

Butter-steamed spring cabbage

Spring cabbage is one of the tastiest vegetables out there. It goes well with grilled fish, especially salmon or trout. In Norway we call it summer cabbage, because that’s when you can get it here. This is the easiest and best way to prepare it if you ask me, and it’s super fast.

Time: 10 minutes
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: Steaming over direct heat
Grill temperature: Doesn’t really matter

You’re going to need:
A head of spring cabbage
4 tablespoons of butter
Salt and pepper
Aluminium foil

How you do it:

  • Slice the cabbage in longish strips about a half-inch wide
  • Make a big sheet of aluminium foil, put 4 tablespoons of butter on it
  • Put the cabbage on top of the butter
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Make it into a bowl shape, that you half close on top
  • Put it over direct heat on the grill, and let the butter steam the cabbage for about 5-10 minutes depending on heat level
  • Serve!

This goes well with for instance a whole grilled trout or smokegrilled mackerel

Quick tip: Spring onions on the grill

Spring onions or scallions are one of my favorite sides. They go well with almost anything. However, I had a lot of problems with them rolling of the grate and into the coals, or rolling off the grill completely sometimes when grilling in parks or at the beach. I picked up this nifty little trick from author and chef Steven Raichlen ( www.barbecuebible.com ). It made me feel like an idiot not to have though of this myself, but sometimes the simplest solution is the hardest to find.

Use bamboo skewers or any other skewer and do them like you see in the below pic. Also makes turning them much quicker and easier. This also works great with asparagus and other long, skinny things you put on the grill. For spring onions, while we’re at it, I do this, brush them with olive oil, and  sprinkle with Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Grilled Peppers

A pretty essential classic. Italian inspired, goes great with all meats as a side, but can also be used in salads and such. Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge, which I think is key for a BBQ side dish, as that means I can focus 100% on the BBQ when that’s what I’m doing. This is how I normally do it:

Grilling peppers over direct heat

Time: 45-60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: Direct
Grill temperature: About 200-250 degrees centigrade  (390-480F)You’ll need to get hold of:
Peppers (I like to mix up the colors for visual appeal)
A lemon
Some good olive oil of the expensive kind
Salt/pepper

How you do it:

  • Have a hot grill waiting (don’t you always?)
  • This step is optional: Cut the top and bottom parts off the peppers. Slice the peppers lengthwise. I usually slice them in three or four slices, depends on the shape of the peppers, but the goal is to make it easy to get even grilling. Sometimes I also grill them whole, but that requires more tong-work
  • Put them on the grill, skin side down, and let them roast until the skin is black and starts peeling. Burning the (pepper’s) flesh a little is not a bad thing
  • When they’re done roasting, put them all in a bowl that you cover with some clingfilm. Let them rest for 30 minutes. This will make the skin loosen much easier due to the moisture being trapped in, and as an added bonus they will be cooler so you don’t burn your fingers in the next step
  • One rested, use your fingers to peel off all (or most of) the skin
  • Cut the pepper pieces into thin strips lengthwise, chuck them in a bowl, drizzle with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Red Onion Compote

Red onion compote – so tasty!

This is a great side dish that goes well with a lot of things. I use it with gourmet sausages and hot dogs, burgers, lamb, duck, all kinds of game meat, and of course; pork. It can also be made a couple days ahead, and because of the vinegar it will stay good in the fridge for some time. It’s the one dish the most people have asked me about a recipe for. This recipe is for a fairly large portion, but I’ve never had to throw any out…Time: 30-45 minutes total

Skill level: Easy

You’ll need to get hold of:
4 big, red onions
3 tbsp of butter
3/4 cup of prunes
1/2 cup of raisins
Cayenne pepper
Sugar
Good Balsamic Vinegar or Crema de Balsamico

How you do it:

  • Get a frying pan, set your stove on low and put the butter in
  • Slice the onions, in small squares, small long slices, whatever way you like them
  • Throw the onions in the pan together with the 3 tbsp of sugar, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir occasionally.
  • While you’re waiting slice the prunes in thinnish slices
  • When the onions have cooked for 15-20 minutes, throw in the prunes and the raisins
  • If you’re reducing your own balsamic vinegar, throw that in there now, about half a cup should do it
  • If you’re using crema (I usually do, because it’s easier and just as good), wait another 5-10 minutes, then throw in about 4-5 tbsp of Crema di Balsamico.
  • Season to taste. I use about a teaspoon of cayenne for an extra kick, in addition to salt and pepper
  • One the compote has the right consistency for you, turn off the stove and let it cool. I usually serve it warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!