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.
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!