Sunday, August 23, 2009

No More Turkey Sandwiches

Tomorrow is the first day of school! Hooray! Back to my favorite thing, making lunches every night before bed. I love it! Especially the part where I'm done cleaning the kitchen, and folding laundry, and I'm trying to remember where I was in my book and then I remember - I still have to make the #%$& lunches before I can go to bed. So I drag my tired butt into the kitchen, slap some turkey and chees on some bread, and call it a night.
Only, Lydia has suggested that she almost doesn't even like turkey and cheese anymore, because she is so sick of it. So like many moms this time of year, we're trying to rethink lunches.

"What if, " I asked Lydia, "we cooked some chicken, and filled some bread dough with chicken and cheese, or pizza fillings - like kolache or calzones. We could freeze 'em, and you could heat them at school."
This idea was met with much enthusiasm. And after we discussed all the possiblities, Lydia pointed out, "And, I won't even know which filling I have until I bite into it at school!"

Clearly, these are just a take on the age-old pocket pie. A somosa. An empenada. A calzone. But they're also something I can do in batches, during the weekend, and freeze a month-long supply at a time. And so a new lunch tradition has been born.

You can use any bread recipe you like. I used a pizza dough, since that's what Lydia asked for, but you could use a yeasty dinner roll recipe and make these a bit flakier if you like.


We were lucky enough to find a 10 grain bread flour in the bulk section of whole foods, so that's what I used, but any good wheat bread flour will work.

For our dough:

3/4 cup warm water (body temp - not too hot to touch, or it will kill the yeast)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 - 2 cups bread flour
2 Tbs olive oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water. When it's nice and foamy, add 1 & 1/2 cups flour and the olive oil, and mix until all the flour is absorbed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, OR use the hook attachment on your mixer, and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic - about 10 minutes. You may need to add more flour. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.

When the dough is all nice and elastic-y, rub it lightly with more olive oil, place in a clean bowl, and cover the bowl (not touching the dough) with a damp towel, and place in a warm, dry place. (A cool oven, with the interior light on, works lovely. The heat from the light bulb is just enough warmth, and the closed oven door prevents drafts.) Allow the dough to rise until double in size - about an hour. Then, punch it down, and divide it into 4 pieces.
NOTE: Double or even triple the recipe to make more dough. Next time, I'm going to QUADRUPLE it, and make enough of these for a month.

Roll each piece out, and fill with the fillings of your choice.


For the chicken, I preheated my saute pan over medium heat, added olive oil, and when it was hot, I added a couple of thighs and breasts, which I had lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I added a smashed garlic clove, some crushed red pepper, dried oregano and a bay leaf, plus a few inches of chicken stock - just enough to come about half-way up the meat. Cover, and allow the meat to simmer for about 5 - 7 minutes, then turn the meat, and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes more, until cooked through. Remove from heat, and allow the chicken to cool IN the broth. This is very important. Keep the chicken in the broth while it cools, and it won't dry out.
Next time - fillings and baking!

2 comments:

  1. Delicious. Will you please be my mom? Now - what to do when your child attends a school that doesn't refrigerate or heat up lunches??

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  2. @ellen - we use an ice pack in La Lyd's lunch box. And these would be good cold, too.
    Other good lunch box tricks for no heat ups:
    Pasta salad!
    Frozen juicebox - defrosts, and acts as an ice pack.
    Leftovers in a thermos! (a personal favorite, since I don't have to make anything new...)
    The "deli tray" - we put meat, cheese, crackers and sliced fruit in a compartmentalized container. It's like a home made version of the evil lunchable.

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