This Old-Favorite Comfort Food Gets A Delicious Update

Photo: Courtesy of Joy The Baker.
There was a girl singing outside of my window as I made these sloppy joes today. I imagine that if I had the gall to sing in public, I’d be pretty average. A lot of times it’s way more about guts when it comes to singing in the streets. You just have to step out there and mean it.
I feel the same way when I step in the kitchen to make bread. I’ve had every intention of making homemade hamburger-type buns for (no joke) two years now. Two years!
I think that’s called self-procrastination. Sometimes even the best laid plans take years to activate.
The dough was totally easy to work with, and I love how golden and brioche-y these buns are! This is a meal I enjoyed in the summer, but I like it even better this time of year. It’s comforting and familiar and delicious. If the idea of making the rolls stresses you out, it's ok. You can totally just buy good bakery buns, and get on with the rest. I won't tell anyone.
Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns
makes 16 small sandwiches
Recipes adapted from Smitten Kitchen and NY Times
For the buns
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp warm milk (any fat percentage)
2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, beaten with a splash of water
coarse sea salt and poppy seeds for topping, optional
For the turkey filling
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of a seeded jalapeño, minced
1 pound ground turkey meat
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tbsp butter, for serving
Photo: Courtesy of Joy The Baker.
For the Buttery Buns
1. To make the buttery buns, in a liquid measuring cup, stir together water, milk, sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will foam and froth. That’s right! If the mixture does not froth, start over again with new yeast.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Add the softened butter, and use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture will be crumbly.
3. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to stir together into a shaggy dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead for 10 minutes. The dough will be tacky, but not overly sticky. After kneading into a smooth dough, place the dough in the medium bowl we used to stir the dough together. Just grease it well with a bit of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest until doubled in size, between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.
4. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and place on a clean counter. Divide the dough in 16 pieces. Gently roll each piece of dough into a round ball and place, leaving about 2 inches of space, on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Lightly spray a piece or two of plastic wrap and place sprayed side down over the buns. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
6. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. In a small bowl beat together egg and a splash of water. After the rolls have risen a second time, gently and lightly brush each bun with egg. Sprinkle generously with poppy seeds and sea salt, if using.
8. Bake rolls until golden brown, turning baking sheets halfway through baking, for about 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.
For the turkey filling
1. To make the turkey filling, in a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and red pepper and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the turkey and stir, breaking the turkey into bits as it cooks down and browns.
2. Once turkey meat is completely cooked through, add tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Add the tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Stir until thoroughly combined and warmed through. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
4. To serve, melt butter on a griddle over medium heat. Cut each bun in half and toast of the griddle. Top each bottom half generously with sloppy joe filling and serve.

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