Credit: © Dennis Prescott

A few years ago I stumbled my way into New York City's Madison Square Eats pop-up, and discovered a perfectly steamed pouch of pork belly, hoisin and chilies. Since then I’ve wanted to perfect my own version and now I think I have.

This recipe combines both my love of the steamed bun and all things Southern comfort. Happy food for happy days.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Steamed Buns with Duck Fat Milk Gravy

Makes 12 buns



2 lbs chicken breasts

3 cups buttermilk

1 tsp cayenne

Steamed Buns:

1 1/4 Cup milk

2 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp sugar

4 3/4 Cups bread flour

1 tsp sea salt

6 tbsp. honey


1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Oil for deep frying


1/4 cup duck fat

1/4 cup flour

1 3/4 cups milk

1 tbsp. butter

Salt & pepper


2 ripe smashed avocados

1 bunch cilantro, for garnish


Marinate the Chicken

On a cutting board, slice chicken into tenders, about 1x3-inches each. Place chicken into a large bowl, and cover with 3 cups buttermilk & 1 teaspoon cayenne. Mix well and cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

For the buns:

In a saucepan, gently warm milk to lukewarm. Remove from heat and add yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Whisk to combine. Allow the yeast to activate, about 8 minutes.

In a stand mixer, combine milk/yeast mixture, flour, salt and honey, and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes. Remove from mixer and cover dough ball with plastic wrap and rest until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and place onto a clean surface. Roll the dough out into a long log, and cut it into 12 equal parts. Shape each piece into a small ball. Working one at a time, roll dough balls out into long round rectangle shapes (think naan bread), about 3x7-inches each with rounded edges. Place a small piece of parchment paper on one half of the dough, and fold the other half on top, creating a half-moon shape. Place all buns on a second small piece of parchment paper, slightly larger than the bun itself.

Cover with plastic wrap and rest for about 45 minutes.

Add water to a wok fitted with a bamboo steamer, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Working in batches, place dough into the steamer and cook for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack until you are ready to use.

For the chicken:

In a deep fryer, or large dutch oven, heat your oil to 350°. In a large bowl, combine flour, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating well and shaking off excess. Working in batches, fry tenders for 6 - 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Place your chicken on a drying rack until ready to eat.

For the gravy:

While chicken is frying, prepare gravy. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the duck fat. When melted, add flour and whisk well to combine for 1 minute. Pour in milk, continue whisking, and bring to a simmer. When the gravy is thick, add butter and season with salt and pepper. If the gravy is too thick, add another tablespoon of milk to thin.

To assemble, spread 1 tablespoon avocado on the base of a bun, add 2 pieces of chicken, a dollop of gravy, and a sprig of cilantro. Enjoy.