I feel like I’ve said this about a million times already…..
….but just in case you happened to miss every one of those times I’ll reiterate my annoyance at the perception that so many people seem to have about everything south of Texas being an extension of Mexico. I’m not saying that I wasn’t guilty of sharing in it when I lived in the US, but still, I sometimes find it hard to bite back my desire to mentally label people “uncultured swine”.
I’m probably not getting across what I’m trying to say very well. My point is that, contrary to popular belief, it’s not a taco Tuesday party down here just because the native language is Spanish. In fact, we hardly have access to even a fraction of the authentic Mexican food that so many people seem to think. Seriously, Chilean cuisine is so different from Mexican that it’s ridiculous actually.
Because of the choices here (or lack thereof), my native Californian mom and taco-obsessed brothers crave Mexican food a lot more often than I’m in the mood to make it so that is a huge part of why I love this recipe. I realize that they may not be very authentic or traditional as far as some of you die-hard foodies are concerned. Not to mention I’m probably causing some iron-armed, tortilla-machine abuelas to turn over in their graves to scold me for this blasphemy. They do , however, deliver all the flavors of a taco, but in a form that is much faster and more user friendly for feeding a crowd.
My mom and I decided that neither one of us should get to claim full credit for these because the idea was hers and the name inspiration was mine, but neither are completely original. She described these sandwiches to me that she remembered from a restaurant and after I did a little searching to satisfy my errant curiosity I found that there are some people out there who have already thought of this, but what else is new. The point is that for us it was original and we were pretty proud of our combined creation while the guys were raving over them.
These are the perfect item for a summer barbecue, super-bowl tailgate party, or really any other occasion year-round. You know how I’m a huge fan of homemade everything, so I chose to make my own Hawaiian rolls and I’m sharing the recipe if you want to also. However, I understand that one of the perks with these is the ease of throwing them together quickly, so feel free to use a pack of store-bought Hawaiian rolls. If you do it that way it cuts the total time down to about 3o minutes. Now that’s my favorite kind of appetizer to prep, super easy! I have to tell you though guys, there’s nothing like making these on fresh out of the oven, from-scratch Hawaiian rolls with an extra scoop of love. You can’t beat that.
The beef filling is super easy to make and after that you pretty much just put everything together and warm it up. Okay, and for those of you who do want to make the rolls, they are no big deal. I know some of the ingredients may seem strange or unnecessary but don’t skip them. I like to use both orange and pineapple juice but you can pick one or the other if you don’t have both on hand. Also, the cornstarch added to these gives them an extra boost of fluffiness that we all love in a dinner roll so don’t skip it.
- 1 1/2 pounds (80% lean) ground beef
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 3 tablespoons tomato pasted
- 1/4 cup refried beans
- 5 - 6 slices havarti cheese (or preferred type)
- 1 12-count package Hawaiian dinner rolls (or recipe follows)
- hot sauce
- sour cream
- fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup orange juice (or more pineapple)
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups all purpose, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk (save white for brushing on rolls)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (makes softer rolls)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C) (or reduce to that if you just made the Hawaiian rolls). [If using store-bought rolls, lightly grease a piece of parchment paper and line a 13x9 inch pan with it (greased side up) then unwrap rolls and place in pan.]
- Place ground beef in a large skillet or wok and cook over medium high heat, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. Add the seasoning, tomato paste, and beans and stir until meat is completely browned.
- Use a large serrated edge knife to slice the rolls (homemade or store-bought) horizontally in the center. Remove the layer of tops and layer cheese slices then meat on the bottoms. Place the tops back on top of the meat and place pan in oven for 10 - 12 minutes until cheese is melted and buns are nice and warm. Remove from oven and lift sliders out of pan. Serve asap to a hungry crowd with desired toppings
- Lightly grease a piece of parchment paper and line a 13x9 inch pan with it (greased side up). Combine yeast, sugar, and juice in a large mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup of flour and stir in well, then set mixture aside and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Now stir together the eggs and yolk with salt, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger in a small separate bowl until combined. Add melted butter while whisking then pour the mixture into your yeast mixture and mix well. Now add the 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 more cup of all purpose flour and stir until you start to get a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour as needed, until it becomes smooth and resilient (when you press you thumb into it it should spring back).
- Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic or a damp towel and allow it to rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour until doubled in size. Press the dough down and turn back out onto floured surface. Divide it into 12 or 15 pieces, depending on how big you want them, and roll into little balls. Place them side by side in prepared pan then cover an again place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
- About halfway through the second rise time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). When oven is hot combine your reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush onto rolls. Bake rolls for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool completely in pan, then use the parchment to easily lift out the rolls.