Sunday 8 January 2012

Pork and Bean Pocket Bread

Focaccia is a multipurpose bread at my house.  I serve it with pasta but I also use it for panini, pizza crust, dinner rolls, regular bread loaves, and flat breads.  I sometimes use it to make bread pockets, stuffed with savoury fillings. 

That’s what I used focaccia for tonight.  I took last night’s leftover pork roast and white bean ragoût and used it to make bread pockets for tonight’s supper.

Here’s how I made them:

I put the leftover ragoût in a bowl and then diced up enough pork roast to make an equal volume to the beans.  I mixed them together and used the mixture as my filling.  (Wish I’d taken pictures of this part.  I don’t know why I didn’t.)

Once the filling was mixed, I made the focaccia dough.  To make focaccia, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • The leaves from a 4-inch sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6-1/2 cups white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • More olive oil for brushing on the bread before it bakes

Stir the sugar into the water until it’s dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water.  It’ll sink but sprinkle it anyway.  If you pour it in all at once it will clump and not dissolve properly.

Let the mixture rest about 10 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved and starts to bubble up.

Add the oil, garlic, rosemary, flour, and salt in the order listed.

If you’re using a mixer with a dough hook to make the bread as I did, mix the dough until it forms an elastic mass that pulls away completely from the sides of the bowl.

If you’re mixing the dough by hand, stir it until it begins to form a stiff dough, then knead it in the bowl until it forms an elastic mass that springs back when you poke it lightly with your finger.

Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead it a couple of more times, to form a ball.  Cut the dough into quarters.

Put two of the quarters into freezer bags and save them for another time.  Each bag of dough will make 1 pizza crust, 3 flat breads, or 4 to 6 dinner rolls.  If you use both bags of dough, they’ll make a single conventional loaf of bread, baked in a loaf pan.

Divide the two remaining pieces of dough into 4, making 8 small pieces of dough in total.

Using your hands, form the dough into thin, flat rounds—like miniature pizza crusts. 

To make the bread pockets, spoon a good amount of filling into the center of each round.  Crimp the edges of the dough together.  Place the filled dough, seam side down, on a buttered baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Let the bread pockets rest for 1-1/2 hours.  They’ll rise a little bit but not as much as a regular roll might.

When the bread pockets have risen, brush them all over with olive oil and pierce a hole in the top of each one. 

Bake the rolls at 375˚F for about 30 minutes, until the bread is browned and the filling hot.

I served our bread pockets with corn salsa and a cucumber and pickled beet salad.  After dinner, I froze the leftovers for another day.

Note:  I ended up with about a cup of filling left over.  I froze it together with the roast bones and cooking liquid.  When I thaw them, I’ll use them as a base for soup.

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