Soft, chewy, golden rolls stuffed full of Middle Eastern-spiced meat and completed, of course, with a good dunk in tahini sauce, make a delicious meal or snack. Especially great fresh from the oven, these meat-stuffed rolls also reheat nicely for lunch all week long.
A true East-meets-West fusion food, these meat-stuffed rolls resemble steamed Chinese barbecue buns, but in a European sort of wrapper. Meanwhile, the meat inside is flavored with baharat, one of the great Middle Eastern spice blends. (Don't have baharat handy? You can substitute another Mideast spice blend, or follow the instructions for my kebab spice blend here in my post on Pan-Seared Kebab Meatballs.) Maybe it's this crossroads marital bliss that makes these rolls so quintessentially Israeli to me. And, just like Israelis, they're informal and straightforward, the dough amiably wrapping around the meat with ease, making these a fairly easy and forgiving bake.
Mixing dough for meat-stuffed rolls
The rolls use a lightly enriched yeast dough, with just one egg and a small amount of olive oil added. They are made with 4 cups of 500 g (½ kilo) of regular, all-purpose flour. You'll mix the dough with the dough hook until it comes together, forming a smooth ball. Then, it gets to handg out, covered, right in the mixing bowl for half an hour. (A perfect amount of time to prep the meat filling.) After the half hour's up, you'll turn the mixer on again and knead it a bit more. Then, the dough gets its long rise, covered in a warm spot, for an hour. After the hour, you'll divide it into twelve pieces for the rolls and let them puff up a bit for 10 minutes. So, the rise time for these is 1 hour and 40 minutes total, plus shaping and baking, so give yourself at least two hours to start ahead of when you want the rolls to be ready.
Making the meat filling
Making the meat filling is as simple as throwing some chopped onion into a frying pan, browning it in a bit of olive oil, then cooking the meat while breaking it up. It gets seasoned with spices and herbs, then set aside to cool so that you can tuck it into the rolls.
Filling the rolls
The dough for these rolls is easy to work with. Divide it into twelve pieces (I cut it in half, then cut each half into 6 parts) and tuck the ends under into the beginning of a roll shape. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rest and puff for 10 minutes more.
To fill each roll, pick up one of the rounds of dough and, using your hands, flatten it, opening it up from the bottom. It should be stretchy and pleasant to work with. Place a heaping tablespoon of meat filling in the center, then squish the edges together to seal them. Place the finished roll seam side-down on a lined baking sheet and continue with the others.
Baking meat-stuffed rolls
You can egg wash the tops of the rolls and dress them up with sesame or nigella seeds, or leave them plain, as I did. Half an hour in the oven and they'll be beautifully golden on top, thick, chewy, savory, and wonderful.
Mideast-Spiced Meat-Stuffed Buns (meat)
- Stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
- 4 cups all-purpose flour - 500 g
- 1 Tbsp instant yeast
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup olive oil - 60 ml
- ½ Tbsp salt
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp water - 280 ml
Make the dough:
- Place the flour and yeast in the stand mixer bowl. Stir to combine, then add the sugar, egg, and olive oil. Knead on low speed until combined, slowly adding in the water. Continue to knead until the dough is soft and supple.
- Cover and leave to rise in the mixer bowl for ½ hour.
- Knead for another 3 minutes, then mist with oil, cover, and leave to rise for another 1 hour.
Make the filling:
- Heat oil over medium-low heat in a skillet and add the onions. Sauté until browned, 7-10 minutes. Add the beef to the skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned and cooked through.
- Add the tomato paste and spaces and cook for another minute. Stir in the parsley. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Filling the rolls:
- Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, 70 g each. Set on a baking sheet, mist with oil, and leave to rest for 10 minutes, covered in cling wrap.
- Working with one roll at a time, flatten it into a round, about ¼" / 5 mm thick. Place a heaping spoonful of filling in the center and close up into a ball. Firmly close the seam.
- Place shaped rolls on a lined baking sheet, 2" / 5 cm apart. Leave to rise for ½ hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
- If desired, brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash and Sprinkle with seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden.
- Serve with tahini.