Crescent Dough-Wrapped Nostalgia (with Other Tasty Fillings)
The Midwestern Gentleman was feeling nostalgic for the comfort foods of his childhood last weekend, so he taught me how to make a sort of family-sized “hot pocket” which is sliced into wedges and served with cheese sauce. You couldn’t tell from the amount of cheese I cook with, but I actually have a dairy allergy — which I obviously manage very poorly — and I occasionally draw the line in some sudden and irrational way, which is what I did last weekend. Sure, I agreed to a cheese-stuffed dinner pastry, but I absolutely drew the line at garnishing it with cheese sauce. No-can-do. So, we had cheese sauce for the Midwestern Gentleman and marinara sauce for me. Naturally, I ended up swirling cheese sauce into my marinara sauce, and it was brilliant. (sigh)
Whether raw or cooked, my favorite part of broccoli is the stem. In fact, I wish grocery stores would sell just the stems, as they sometimes sell just the crowns. Peel away the fibrous skin of the stem to reveal the broccoli “heart,” and then cut it into sticks to eat raw with dip, or dice it up and cook it along with the broccoli florets. I think this part of the broccoli tastes sweeter and more flavorful than the florets, with a pleasantly crunchy texture. In the recipe below, if you want the broccoli to be softer, steam or saute it before mixing it with the other filling ingredients. I liked leaving it raw, so when the pastry finishes baking, the broccoli still maintains a crisp-tender texture.
This is a great way to use up leftover, cooked meats, but the recipe works equally well with deli meats.
Ham & Cheese Stuffed Dinner Pastry
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 head broccoli
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 lb ham (cooked)
1/4 lb chicken or turkey (cooked)
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup mozzarella
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 lb crescent dough (homemade or store-bought)
cheese sauce (homemade or store-bought)
marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onion and leave it cooking, stirring occasionally, until it caramelizes, while you prepare the rest of the filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Chop the broccoli florets, and peel and chop the broccoli stem. Mince the garlic. Dice the meats. Combine these ingredients with the ricotta and mozzarella in a medium bowl. When the onions have caramelized, stir them into the filling mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out the crescent dough into a large rectangle that more or less fills the baking sheet. Spoon the filling into the center of the dough. Starting at opposite corners, fold the dough up and around the filling, pinching the seams together well.
Bake the pastry until deep golden-brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve with cheese sauce, marinara sauce, or both.