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Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

turkey sloppy joes with buttery buns

There was a girl singing Summertime (and the living is easy) outside of my window as I made these Sloppy Joes today.  She wasn’t the best singer in the world.  I imagine that if I had the gall to sing in public, I’d be just around average as well.  A lot of times it’s way more about feel and guts when it comes to singing in the streets.  You just have to step out there and mean in.  That’s just about everything.

I’m feel the same way when I step in the kitchen to make bread.  Feel and guts, every time.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

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.  Feel and guts!  I’m telling  you.  It’s so real.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Here’s the deal with my baby steps into this homemade hamburger bun situation:  I wanted my hamburger buns to be as rich and lovely as brioche buns without the tremendous amount of work it takes to make actual brioche buns.

I wanted a cheat!

I’ve had my eyes on Deb’s recipe from Light Brioche Buns for (you guessed it) years.  With just a bit of butter and a bit of egg, her recipe seems just right.

Except…  I forgot to add the egg.

Two years and I forget the egg!!!!!

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Luckily, this hamburger bun story still has a happy ending.

We’re working with bread flour, mixed with a bit of all-purpose flour.  Truth be told I used just a bit of while whole wheat flour.  I don’t often make so many intentional and not so intentional substitutions.  I promise.  Butter is worked into the flours, kinda like we’re making biscuits!

Warm water, milk, years and sugar are stirred together and added to our flour mixture.

This is just a bowl and spoon happening.  No mixer needed!

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

The dough starts shaggy.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

And stays pretty shaggy.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

We knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes.

The dough will be tacky, but not overly sticky.  That’s because I forgot the egg.

There’s no need to add extra flour.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

After 10 minutes the dough will be pretty, smooth, and happy.

We leave it to rest in a big bowl coated well with olive oil.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

While the dough rests, the Turkey Sloppy Joes come together!

Onions, red bell pepper, a bit of jalapeño, and a good amount of garlic.

Tomato sauce and paste, barbecue sauce, and hella Worcestershire sauce, too!  I like to shake in the hot sauce as well.  That vinegar spice is perfect!

Brown sugar for sweetness, and chili powder for that round spice flavor.  It’s all very good!

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Ground turkey, of course!

It’s cooked down with the onions, peppers, and garlic.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Once the vegetables and turkey is cooked down we add the chili powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Tomato paste helps deepen the rich tomato flavor.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

All mixed up and so hard not to devour by the spoonful!

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Just as the sloppy joe filling finishes simmering, the dough finishes its first rise.

The dough is divided into 16 pieces.  Each piece is rolled into a little bun and placed on a lightly greased piece of parchment paper.  Before we brush with egg and sprinkle with poppy and salt, the buns need to rest for another hour or so.  They need more time to fluff (don’t we all).

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Lightly brushed with egg wash and sprinkled generously with sea salt and poppy seeds.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

Baked to golden!

If we tap the buns just out of the oven, they’ll sound hollow.  That’s how we know they’re done.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

A major amount of sloppy joe filling, please!

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

The buns, even without the egg, are light and fluffy.  The dough was totally easy to work with, and I love how golden and brioche-y these buns are!   Two years was worth the wait… but wwwhhhyyy did I wait?

Check out Deb’s recipe for Light Brioche Burger Buns for her plus-egg recipe although I had great results and a super manageable dough by making it without the egg.

This is a most lovely summer meal! It’s perfectly comforting and familiar.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

makes 16 small sandwiches

Print this Recipe!

recipes adapted from Smitten Kitchen and NY Times

For the Buns:

1 cup warm water

3 tablespoons warm milk (any fat percentage)

2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoon (1 package) active dry yeast

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons 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 tablespoons 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 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons butter, for serving

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.

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.

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.  That’s right.  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.

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.

Lightly spray a piece or two of plastic wrap and place sprayed side down over the buns.  Allow to rest for 1 hour.

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

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.

Bake rolls until golden brown, turning baking sheets halfway through baking, for about 12 to 14 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

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.

Once turkey meat is completely cooked through, add tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.

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.

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.