Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Sandwiches

Big Batch Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Meal Starter

Yield: 5 meals worth of starter

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 pound sliced smoked bacon, cut into 1/2″ strips
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional:

  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

In a very large skillet (or a stove-top safe roasting pan over two burners) cook the bacon strips over medium heat, stirring frequently, until deeply colored and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the crisp bacon to a paper towel lined plate.  Cover the plate with foil and set aside.  Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving about 1 Tablespoon, and return the pan to medium heat.

(If using the optional onions, add them to the pan now.)

Break up the ground beef into the pan.  Cook the beef, stirring and breaking up large clumps of the beef, until the beef is browned and no longer pink in the center.  If necessary (if there is a lot of liquid or fat remaining after browning the beef), drain the beef in a colander, wipe the additional fat from the pan, and return the drained beef to the pan.

Lower the heat on the pan to medium low and add the ketchup, sugar, cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes to the beef mixture.  Stir to evenly coat and cook until the sauce coats all the beef and is hot.  Add the reserved bacon and shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted and the bacon is evenly distributed.  Taste and add black pepper to your liking.

Divide the beef mixture into heat-safe containers with tight fitting lids.  I usually divide the starter into 3 cup portions. Cool quickly (by resting in a bowl with ice water halfway up the sides of the containers.)  The beef mixture will be good in the refrigerator for four days or in the freezer for up to four months.

Buttermilk Sandwich Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups Cultured Buttermilk (You’re making your own, right?)
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 4 cups bread flour (1 pound and 1 ounce by weight.)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten (If you can’t find this it can be omitted, but it helps the structure and texture of the finished bread.)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or SAF yeast

Optional:

  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon tepid water to glaze the bread

Bread Machine Instructions:

Load all ingredients into the pan according to your bread machine manufacturer’s instructions.  Program for a simple white cycle and press START.

Immediately remove bread from the pan to a cooling rack when the cycle is finished.  Cool completely before slicing.

Stand Mixer Instructions:

Load all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Lock the stand mixer head into position and turn mixer onto “LOW”.  When the ingredients form a cohesive dough, allow the machine to knead the dough for 8 minutes.  Unlock the mixer head, remove dough hook from the bowl and cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Grease two standard loaf pans and set aside.

Punch down (deflate the dough with your fists), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in two equal pieces.  Gently pat each piece into a rectangle that is roughly the length of your loaf pans.  Roll the dough up, and place each roll into a prepared loaf pan, tucking the ends under.  Cover the pans with plastic wrap or damp tea towels and let rise another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If you want to have a shiny loaf, brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash just before placing the pans in the oven on the center rack.  If you prefer a softer looking, lighter-brown crust, skip this step.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the loaf has a nice brown crust.  If you have an instant read thermometer, you’re looking for a center internal temperature of about 190°F.  Remove the loaves to a cooling rack and let come to room temperature before slicing.

To make by hand:

Stir all ingredients together with a big wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl.  You may need to use your hands to incorporate the last of the flour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Grease two standard loaf pans and set aside.

Punch down (deflate the dough with your fists), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in two equal pieces.  Gently pat each piece into a rectangle that is roughly the length of your loaf pans.  Roll the dough up, and place each roll into a prepared loaf pan, tucking the ends under.  Cover the pans with plastic wrap or damp tea towels and let rise another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If you want to have a shiny loaf, brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash just before placing the pans in the oven on the center rack.  If you prefer a softer looking, lighter-brown crust, skip this step.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the loaf has a nice brown crust.  If you have an instant read thermometer, you’re looking for a center internal temperature of about 190°F.  Remove the loaves to a cooling rack and let come to room temperature before slicing.

To Make Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Meal Starter
  • 1 batch of Buttermilk Sandwich Bread dough (or 2 pounds thawed frozen bread dough or bread dough of your choice.)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash.)

Optional:

  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds or minced onion for topping

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the bread dough into 12 even pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten bread dough into a circle that is about 1/4″ thick.  Place about 1/4 cup of the meat filling into the center of the dough circle.  Gather up the edges of the dough around the filling and cinch to seal.  Place seam side down on the parchment lined pan.  Repeat until all the dough is used.

Gently cover the dough with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.  Let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes or until slightly puffy.  Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with any desired toppings.

Slide the pan into the preheated oven on the center rack.  Bake for 18-24 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time, or until the rolls are deep brown and shiny and the bread is cooked all the way through. Remove the pan from the oven and let the rolls rest on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Let the rolls rest at least 15 minutes before eating.

If you wish to freeze the rolls remove them from the oven about 5 minutes early and let cool completely on the pan before putting the pan directly into the freezer.  When the rolls are frozen through (about 6 hours), wrap each one in foil and transfer to a resealable freezer bag.  Kept like this in the freezer they will be good for about 3 months.  To reheat, place foil wrapped rolls on a pan and heat in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, open the foil so the rolls are exposed and continue heating until hot all the way through.