Believe it or not, two years later, I still have caribou meat leftover from my first backpack hunt. Down to the last few packages of grind, and a craving for healthy comfort food (is there such a thing?), I created an easy pizza pocket recipe.
The McCain pizza pockets were a childhood favorite of mine. I have fond memories of my father slightly burning them in the oven and having to remake a second batch. Thinking back on things, I think he purposely burnt them so he could have the extra "bad" ones for himself.
I don't bake much or have the desire to do so. But, this was simple enough for me to make and, therefore, I have all the confidence you can make these pockets of comfort – no matter what level of baker you are. You can buy frozen dough for this recipe in most grocery stores or make your own in 10 minutes. I usually make a surplus of dough and put it in the freezer for when the craving for comfort food hits. My go-to recipe is by Richardo. If you're using Richardo's dough recipe, it should make eight pizza pockets.
While I’ve used caribou for this particular recipe, explore with any grind meat you have on hand. Trust that the result will be good. I know this because I ate three in one sitting.
CARIBOU PIZZA POCKETS
- Pizza dough
- 1/2 lb of grind
- 1 egg beaten
- Fat for cooking and greasing the pan (check out this recipe for rendering bear fat!)
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Ingredients for filling flavors, below:
Pizza - pepperoni, tomato paste, pepper, onion, oregano, mozzarella
Cheeseburger - onion, pickles, American cheese, mustard
Taco - taco seasoning, black beans, peppers, onion, Monterey Jack
Cooking Instructions (Cheeseburger):
1.) Fry up some onions in fat. Then, add in ground meet, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and parsley.
2.) Let the grind (and any added ingredients) cook down until all the water has evaporated. You know it's done when parts of the meat are deep brown with a nice crispy caramelization. To achieve this color, it takes tender love and care: Try not to stir the meat too often. If the bottom of the pan starts to burn, turn down the heat. Add in just a small amount of water to help scrape all that flavor off the bottom of the pan.
3.) While the meat filling is cooking, cube up some low-moisture mozzarella cheese to wrap up in the pocket. I love mozzarella because it melts well, and the low moisture option ensures you don't have a soggy pizza pocket. But, any cheese on hand will work well, even good old American cheese. How much cheese you put is up to you. I try to squeeze as much as I can inside the pizza pocket and eat the leftover cheese as I wait for the pockets to bake.
4.) Divide the dough into eight balls and roll them out into circles. The key to getting a perfect circle is first to flatten the dough with your fingertips. Then, roll with a rolling pin from the center, outwards, turn the dough, and repeat. Remember to flour the surface and rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking.
5.) Scoop 2 tbs of filling into the center of each dough circle, add as much cheese as you can fit. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold one end of the dough to meet the opposite end, and pinch the edges to seal the deal. Brush the tops with more egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Poke the top with a fork or knife for steam to release during baking; this ensures a crispy outer layer.
6.) Place pockets on a lightly greased baking pan. I used more bacon fat, but oil or butter works too.
7.) Place the pan into a 400-degree oven for 12 minutes or until pizza pockets are golden brown on top. Be mindful, the bottom tends to burn faster, so place the pan on the rack just above the middle row.
8.) Remove the pan from the oven and let the pockets cool on a rack before digging into them. This will allow the moisture to soak back into the meat. (Also, this prevents you from burning the crap out of the roof of your mouth.)
9.) If you can resist eating all of them, keep them refrigerated in a container for a few days, or tightly plastic wrap them individually and store in the freezer for a rainy day.
Photos by author