Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Perfect Pizza Pockets

This recipe was inspired by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I have tried several different pizza dough recipes over the years and have never been really happy with any of them; I was struggling to find a soft, pillowy dough for my homemade pizza recipes. However, that all changed while watching my favorite cooking show when she made calzones with dinner roll dough. I was shocked! Really?? Frozen bread dough for pizzas??? I had to try it and quick! What I discovered was phenomenal. I finally had the soft, billowy dough I had been working so hard to make from scratch, and it was easier and cheaper than anything I had tried before.
These pizza pockets are delicious, a crowd pleaser, and budget friendly. My husband loves these so much that we have had them once a week for the past two weeks and he has gladly taken the leftovers for lunch, which is a win in my book!
This recipe is basically a technique. You can customize the fillings with your favorites, but I would make sure not to put a lot of liquid in the pocket or it will come out soggy. Even if you want an all vegetable filling, you would still need to sauté them prior to filling to soften and remove some of the excess liquid. These are slightly spicy, but all you have to do is reduce the red pepper flakes or remove them all together, replacing with regular black pepper for a child's pallet. You can serve these with a side of warm marinara or garlic butter.
FOR THE DOUGH
1 Loaf Frozen Bread Dough, Thawed
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
FOR THE FILLING
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 Pound Sausage
1 Small Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
4 Ounces (weight) White Button Mushrooms, Stems Removed and Chopped
1/2 Cup Baby Spinach, Chopped
18 Slices Pepperoni, Divided
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella, Divided
3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan, Divided
FOR THE TOPPING
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley Flakes
Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
Yield: 3 Large Pockets
Servings: 6
1. In preparation for making the pockets, thaw one loaf of bread dough that has been coated with oil. Place on a sheet pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to sit in a warm spot for 4 hours to thaw.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over Medium heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan. Using the back of a spatula, break the sausage into small pieces while it cooks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. When the sausage is almost completely cooked, add the onion, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
4. Add the mushrooms and spinach to the pan. Stir to completely combine. Reduce heat to Medium Low. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms should be cooked and the liquid from the spinach mostly evaporated.
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
While the filling cools, begin to prepare your dough.
6. Cut the thawed dough into 3 equal segments. Place 1 segment onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an oblong oval and very thin. 
7. To assemble your pocket, you will be working on one half of the dough leaving a 1-inch border from the edge. Place 1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese on the dough. Top with a third of the cooled sausage mixture, followed by 6 pepperoni slices. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese and then sprinkle with a tablespoon of parmesan. Gently fold the top of the pocket over the filling to join the other end. Use a floured fork to press the edges together. Place the pocket on a baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. 
8. Repeat step 7 for the remaining pockets.
9. Use the fork to poke holes into the top of the pocket. These will allow for venting during the baking process.
10. Combine the butter, garlic, and parsley. Using a pastry brush, spread over the top of the pizza pockets, making sure to also spread over the edges.
11. Place in a 350-degree preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving. 
13. Slice in half and serve.

Note: The bread I use is simply the Rhodes White Bread dough. They come 5 to a pack in the freezer department. For smaller pockets, you can use the White Dinner Rolls dough instead.


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