HOT POCKETS! April Daring Cooks

I bet you didn’t see that coming. In my younger days, I have eaten a few of those nasty things cooked in a plastic sleeve in your tiny little microwave. Well these are more in the tradition of a Cornish pasty, as opposed to something you would buy in the freezer section. In fact I was messing around with a classic Cornish pasty when I came up with the idea for this. A great stand up comic routine by Jim Gaffigan on the very subject set me in motion.

You gotta check out this video that inspired me. ;-)

 

 You see, this month’s challenge was for an edible container. Basically that was all the instruction we were given. It left things wide open to interpretation. I got off to a quick start by doing a classic French onion soup served in a sweet onion.

That little bit of soup right there was at least 2 days of cooking. A proper beef stock starting with soup bones takes time. In the end though the container was just in the way. The soup kicked ass but was much, MUCH better in a regular bowl.

I then got started playing around with the Cornish pasties. I used a very traditional recipe for the pastry. 2 parts flour, 1 part butter/lard, and some salt that is cut together with a pastry cutter. It is then brought together with some cold water. Basically it is a recipe my Mom taught me for peach cobbler crust. Only difference is she uses butter flavored Crisco. I am of the opinion that lard and high fat Irish butter makes a better tasting anything.

When you get it to this stage, you start adding ice cold water. Most recipes say to add a Tblsp at a time. That takes forever. I just added about a 1/8th cup to 8oz of flour and 4oz of fat.

Just mix it around with one hand and gently push it together. You aren’t trying to knead it. Just bring it together in a ball. I am of the opinion that a little moist is better than a little dry. When you go to roll out the pastry you will thank me for that tip.

Wrap up the ball in some plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Pull it out and divide into 4ths. Roll out into about 6-7 inch circles. I polished them up a bit by using a plate to cut them nice and round.

After rolling.

The filling can be just about anything you want. For the Cornish version I went with sliced skirt steak, rutabaga, potato, and onion that I seasoned heavily with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. They tasted amazing. After talking with someone in the know about Butte Montana style pasties, I tried a version covered in a kind of beef gravy. It was actually demi-glace with some beef stock to thin just a bit.

Not real pretty but damn was it tasty.

Now on to the Hot Pockets (sung just like Gaffigan does in the video). I decided on two versions. A ham, cheddar from Lena Il., and broccoli was first and then a pizza pocket with hot Italian sausage from my butcher, low moisture mozzarella, a couple slices of pepperoni, some grated parmesan, a couple of torn basil leaves, and some marinara I just made.

The marinara was my best ever. Not that I did anything crazy or too different. I just used some new tomatoes and they are really good.

I start by sweating some sweet onion in a big pour of olive oil along with some chile flakes.

I then tossed in two finely minced garlic cloves, two bay leaves,  and stirred it around for a couple of minutes. This is just about the time that the onions start leaving a little color on the bottom of a stainless pot. So deglaze with some of that great cab from the above pic. Cook off almost all the liquid and then pour in your tomatoes. Stir in some fresh oregano and taste for seasoning. I just added some salt and about a 1/2 cup of beef stock. Adding stock or water just allows you to simmer things a little longer without having to hover over the pot to keep it from sticking. This was simmered for about 45 minutes while the pastry dough was resting in the fridge.

Assemble your pockets. I put these together and after taking the photo, added just a Tblsp of sauce.

Just like any sealed dough, you brush the edges of this with eggwash. I added a bit of 1/2 & 1/2 to mine. Then fold over gently and crimp the edges. My first one earlier this month was crazy ugly. These came out much better. I finished the crimp with the tines of a fork.

Resist the urge to overstuff. I always ride that line. Then brush with eggwash and put into a 425 F oven. I used a sheetpan lined with parchment but a greased cookie sheet will work just as well.

These were brushed again after 25 minutes and baked for another 20 for a total of 45 minutes (I even amaze myself with my Einstein like math skills).

Aren’t those pretty? Now I am wondering what they would have looked like without the eggwash.

Plate simply with some of your marinara and a little basil. I put the flower there for the photos but to eat, I actually tore up a bunch of basil because I love the stuff.

 The shortcrust gives off such a great aroma as it gets close to done. I think it is the same smell as a properly browned butter for beurre noisette. The crust was flaky and delicious but I think next time I will leave it a little thicker.

In my opinion, this is a simple dish done well. I used good ingredients and technique to produce a solid tasty dish. When I heat up the broccoli, ham, and cheese version for breakfast, I will update. Be sure to check out all the other Daring Cooks. This month especially they have put out some amazingly creative challenges.

 Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

~ by climbhighak on April 13, 2011.

26 Responses to “HOT POCKETS! April Daring Cooks”

  1. Robert I’m so impressed with your posting those hot pockets and pasties are right up my alley and I love how you did it, using good simple ingredients of high quality and good techniques superb work. I love the one smothered in gravy, and the last photo is outstanding it just screams deliciousness. Kudos to you WELL DONE.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. I used one of your photos in my post of course I linked it to your posting and mentioned that you did it I thought it was a great example and I have bookmarked this post when I make pasties again. Cheers Audax

  3. Looks great and I´m sure it´s delicious! Fantastic idea!

  4. Those are beautiful! I see you didn’t precook the Italian sausage prior to baking, didn’t it make the inside greasy?

    • This batch from my butcher was especially lean. I had previously grilled some links and was surprised at how lean they were compared to his normal mix. It kind of made the sausage perfect for this application. The 4 or so pieces of pepperoni I put in one of the pockets gave off more oil than a big portion of the sausage.

  5. Thank you, I am now singing the Hot Pocket jingle and probably will be for another few days. But seriously, your hot pockets look amazingly tasty, very unlike “real” hot pockets.

  6. I love, love, love the sweet onion bowl for the onion soup! It is beautiful and looks like it tastes amazing.

    • If somehow I could have either grilled the onion in foil or somehow cooked it in a way to add more flavor then maybe it would have worked. It was a balancing act though. That onion was boiled for just a minute or two to make it soft enough to use as a bowl but still sturdy enough to hold the soup.

  7. That video is fantastic! I always think of this bit when I hear the words “hot pocket” and I just laugh like a crazy lady when I see it :D.

    You’re hot pockets, however look and sound awesome! I’ve never tried to make a Cornish pastry but now that I know where to look for the recipe, I have to add it to my to-do list.

  8. There is so much to say….. first of all, i roared laughing at Jim Gaffigans Hot Pockets a couple years back.. i have never looked in the freezer section and been the same since. If Glenn is with me i will say it the way Jim does and we both crack up.

    Your onion is fab.. who would have thought.. :)
    Your versions of HP’s are awesome.. the last 2 photos are totally mouth watering.
    I like your rendition of irish butter and lard.. :)

  9. These look amazing and I can’t wait to attempt to make them. Are the tomatos shown in the photo available anywhere in Anchorage?

    Just discovered your site and am really enjoying reading through all the past entries. Thanks!

    • They are available here. I shop at Carr’s Aurora Village on the corner of Nothern Lights and Minnesota. They are in the organic/health food aisle. I imagine all the Carr’s stores carry them.

  10. They all look wonderful but I especially love the look of that pizza pocket. The oozing cheesy meltiness contrasting with the crisp pastry. YUM!
    Thank you for the inspiring ideas.

  11. Robert..like what i said at the forum, i’ll have your French Onion soup. Now your pasties, they are so lovely. I call them the King of all pasties, they were done to perfection!!! I like that you eggwashed it twice. We have pasties here in MI but no way do they look like your version;)

  12. Robert..I was waiting for your post ever since I saw that onion soup bowl…it was full of delicious details and I thought whatever he makes next will be amazing..bookmarking the recipe for the pastry to try soon.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog…I really appreciate it

  13. Great post! Mouthwateringly great! And my husband and I laughed our fool heads off watching that classic video. :)

  14. Those hot pockets look flakey and perfect! Your pictures are amazing – great job!

  15. Your hot pockets don’t deserve being called “hot pockets”, these sound heavenly delicious! I specially love your French onion soup inside the onion bowl, it looks absolutely appealing! As always, you come up with really good stuff! Amazing job! Thanks for participating!

  16. ROTFLOL@ the hot pocket shtick! Glad you posted that :) That said, thanks a lot for putting the hot pocket theme song in my head! Yours looks so dang amazing, pastry purses of beauty. LOVE the onion too. I was out of it for this challenge, didn’t really go all out, but I wish I did. Blog doldrums.

  17. I’m drooling at the description and photo of the gravy-covered pasty. Sounds yummy. Delicious looking hot pockets too.:)

  18. These look so good, my stomach is rumbling

  19. I am curious as to why you made homemade hot pockets if you hate the hot pockets you can get in the store as much as you do? All of you actually. Why is it that you would prefer a homemade one versus store bought when they are essentially the same ingredients? What makes you like the homemade one and not the other? I am really intrigued by this.

    • Arrogance.

      I just like the idea of knowing what goes in to things like that. You will not find me buying from the store or ordering from a restaurant food that has been cooked in some far away facility with who knows what added in the form of preservatives or flavor enhancements.

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