Hot Pockets

I’ve chronically been thinking about empanadas. But all the recipes for empanada dough all seemed too fussy. Plus, I don’t really like traditional empanada fillings. I don’t like ground beef with olives or ground beef with raisins. What I really wanted was a hot pocket.

Hot Pockets Recipe: ham, cheese, and brocolli
1. Dough: Start with a pretty basic bread dough. Mix 1 packet of rapid rise yeast with 2.5~2.75 C flour. Stir in 1 C of warm water (120-130 degrees). Knead the dough for several minutes. Add in extra flour to your hands and the dough until it is no longer sticky. Once the dough starts to get tougher, roll it into a ball, flip your large mixing bowl over it, and let it rise for about half an hour or so. (this is the exact same as my pizza dough recipe, minus olive oil)

2. Cut the cheese: make mini cubes of half a block of cheddar and half a block of mozarella.

3. Cut the ham: I used about 4 oz of sliced ham and chopped it up. In retrospect, I would probably double it. Add this to the cheese. Put the bowl in the fridge to keep cool.

4. Boil some broccoli: break down 1 head of broccoli with stem. Put it in the boiling water. You don’t want to cook it all the way through, but you want to do more than blanch it. I wanted the broccoli to be soft in the final product.

5. Choppin broccoli: remove from the water. Let it cool. Then chop it up real small – the same size as the mini cheese cubes. Maybe 1/4 in^2 or so. Add it to the cheese and ham. Put it in the fridge.

6. Bechamel: I felt like the mixture needed some kind of binder. I thought about adding some spaghetti or marinara sauce, like a calzone. But ham and cheese hot pockets do not have tomato sauce inside. I wanted something creamier and not-tomato-based. If this were from an old, midwestern cookbook, cream of mushroom would be called for. Instead, I made 1 C worth of bechamel. I also added mustard powder, garlic powder, a ton of pepper, and a dash of red pepper flake. Once it thickens, let it cool and add to the cheese, ham, and broccoli.

7. Roll out the dough: take the dough and cut into 6 pieces. My dough was really sticky, so I had to dust with quite a bit of flour. Roll out one of the six pieces of dough into a generally circular shape. You can do this by hand or use a rolling pin.

8. Fill and fold: take two (maybe three) heaping soup-spoonfuls of the ham and cheese mixture on one half of the dough circle. Fold the other side down and crimp the edges. Move the hot pocket carefully over to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough and ham and cheese mixture. I happened to have just enough ham and cheese left over to make a really tasty omelet the next morning.

9. Baste and Bake: Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter (I used Smart Balance) and brush the tops of the hot pockets. Bake at 450 for about 12-15 minutes. (you can pierce the tops of the hot pockets to let steam escape. I did for half of them. It didn’t really seem to matter).

Sarah and I ate this with a side salad and side of spaghetti sauce. After I tasted it, I raised my fist in triumph while yelling, “Yessssss! Mmm.” (This is not an unusual occurrence at the dinner table. My wife will reluctantly confirm this fact.) I had been craving empanadas/hot pockets for about a week and a half. And I hit the craving square on the head.

The dough was not as thick as a calzone dough, but more like a mix between a pastry dough and bread that has been through a panini press. But it wasn’t anywhere near as greasy as a panini. It was exactly what I was hoping for. Like a hot pocket dough, but not all dried out like hot pocket dough can get.

The cheeses were nice and savory and melted in a really satisfying way. The broccoli was cooked exactly how I had hoped – soft but not mushy – and also provided a nice complement to the cheese and bechamel.

Sarah and I each had one for dinner and split a third. The other two I put in the fridge – I intend to come home rip-roaring drunk Saturday night, and I am thinking that they will be particularly good then.

The final one, I put in the freezer. If this freezes and reheats well, I think I just may make a whole kitchen-full of them.

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1 Comment

Filed under recipes

One response to “Hot Pockets

  1. >Bechamel – what a great idea. These sound fantastic!

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