This recipe has been on my “to make” list for quite some time, because I love trying to make my own homemade versions of foods that usually come in a package. Its such a great experience and an accomplished feeling to make a food that is usually bought pre-made. I found a great cookbook, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, at the library. It’s written by Lucinda Scala Quinn, Executive Food Director for Martha Stewart Living, and includes recipes she’s created and made for her three sons. I give her a lot of credit, feeding three boys! Sometimes I’ve got my hands full just feeding L. Smith; he can eat so much! Anyway, when I saw this book I knew it was right up my alley and would have some great ideas for me to make to help keep L. Smith full. After trying a couple of recipes, I scanned a copy of the ones I wanted to keep, before returning the book. This recipe was one of them.
I’ve never been a fan of Hot Pockets, and certainly not a fan of most frozen foods. But this recipe is a home-made, filling version. Made from scratch, the dough is similar to pastry dough and uses a stick of butter (8 tbsp), half a package of cream cheese (4 oz.), 1 cup of flour (I substituted 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier), and 1/4 tsp of salt. Since I currently don’t have a mixer (my hand mixer decided to call it quits recently), I mixed the room temperature butter and cream cheese by hand using a whisk. I whisked the flour and salt together and then added them to the butter mixture, using a heavy wooden spoon and working until it was all combined. Then I divided the dough in half, flattened the halves into disks, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and let them chill for half an hour.
Meanwhile, I had defrosted 2 boneless chicken breasts and poached them for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Once they were done, I set them on a plate to drain and cool, and then shredded them using two forks. I continued to simmer the remaining water to make a quick chicken stock that I could use in the filling. To make the rest of the filling, I diced 1/2 an onion, shredded 2 carrots, and sautéed them in 2 tbsp of butter. (In hindsight, I would have used olive oil to sauté instead of butter, as the filling was by our opinion too rich.) Then I added the chicken stock (1 cup), 2 tbsp of flour, and the shredded chicken. I let that thicken up for about 5-8 minutes on medium heat. When the filling was ready, I took the dough out of the fridge and rolled it out to about 1/4″ thickness. I used a small bowl (inverted) to cut the dough to perfect circles. I was able to get about five small (4-1/2″) circles or three larger (5-1/2″) circles from each of the disks of dough, so ten small or six large total. The smaller size are perfect snack-size portions, while the larger size are better suited for lunch portions.
I used a table spoon to place 1-2 spoonfuls of the chicken/carrot filling on the disks. I folded the disks in half and pinched the edges closed. As a nice finishing touch, I crimped the sides using a fork. One caveat I had was that the filling was slightly liquidy, so when I folded the disks, the liquid seeped out and made a mess of the dough. I just forged ahead, thinking that while it wouldn’t be the prettiest product, it would still be good enough to eat. And in the end, the dough firmed up while baking, and the pockets came out looking delicious. I baked them for 20-25 minutes at 375˚ F, until golden brown.
I made a double batch of these chicken pockets (of course) so we could eat them for lunch during the week. However, we decided they were a bit too rich (most likely from the extra butter in the filling and the butter in the dough), so we froze the second batch to have on hand when we wanted a snack, rather than eating them for 3 days in a row. To defrost, I just pop one in the microwave, use the defrost setting, and I have myself my very own, home-made, delicious hot pocket to snack on.