I imagine some days you run into the same conundrum I do. You’ve had a marvelous party or event with the best BBQ bounty from your grill. Your friends have gone home satiated, and the family is napping away in the shade.
Lo and behold, you find a few trays with just a tiny bit of leftover goodies. Not stacks upon stacks, but enough that it would be a waste to just toss it out with the bones and bottle caps at the end of the day.
Instead of squabbling over that one lone leftover chicken breast, or the single surplus pork chop, let’s take it one step further and create something sumptuous to enjoy later in the week.
Based on classic char siu buns, let’s make BBQ chicken pockets.
You’ll need one pound of your favorite pizza dough , risen through the first rise; about 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken or pork, and the BBQ sauce of your choice.
Dice up or shred the meat into slivers. These pockets are meant to be eaten out of hand, so you don’t want large pieces getting in the way.
Add enough extra sauce to make the filling the consistency and wetness of thick sloppy joes or oatmeal. Wet enough to make a nice, juicy bite, but not so wet that it will flow and spread over the dough as you try to shape the buns.
If you’re running a little short on meat, add some shredded cheese, onions, olives, or veggies to round it out. One version we tried had a deep, smokey sauce and sharp shredded cheddar with the chicken, truly out of this world eats.
Divide your dough into 12 to 14 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pockets. Pat the dough with your fingers into a rough circle, about the size of a burger bun bottom.
Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the bun.
Now, we’re going to think like fighter pilots and use the clock for directions. Gather the dough between 11 and 2 and push it together, using a finger at 12 o’clock to push the filling towards the center.
Continue to gather the dough towards the center, pulling in dough from 3, 9, 4 and 8, then 7 and 5, while using another finger on 6 to hold everything together.
You’ll end up with dough from each section held between your fingers in the center of the bun. Give this a few twists with your fingers to hold everything together. Continue with each bun, tenting them lightly with plastic to keep them from drying out as they rise.
If the clock reference isn’t working out for you, check out this dumpling video that makes it all look seamless. It’s a slightly different technique, but it seals the pockets just as well.
Let the closed buns rise for 20 to 30 minutes, or until puffy. Bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on size. The buns will be golden brown on top, slightly paler below the equator, and well-browned on the bottom.
Have no fear, you’ll get the occasional blowout. It happens to everyone, so don’t fret. I doubt you’ll get anyone who’ll refuse to eat an imperfect pocket, especially once they catch the scent of hot bread and BBQ.
These buns freeze very well once baked. It’s great to pull out one or two in the middle of the week to be reheated for an after-school or after-work snack. Just toss in the toaster oven set on 325°F until warmed through.
Like many “recipes” for leftovers, you can absolutely customize it to your tastes. For those who like to keep printed recipes, this one doesn’t have much to write down, but here’s a little summary:
1 pound soft, supple bread or pizza dough
1 1/2 cups filling (meats, sauce, veggies)
Divide the dough into 12 to 14 pieces. Flatten each piece, and fill with 2 tablespoons filling. Pinch and seal the pocket closed. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Baked pockets freeze well.
So, what’s your favorite way to use up leftovers from the grill? Any silly grilling stories? Share your comments below with your fellow bakers, and make this a summer to remember.
By the way, I mentioned these buns were based on classic Char Siu buns. I’ve always made my char sui with jarred sauce, but I’d love to try a homemade version. If you have a favorite recipe, please let me know, I’d love to try out a few. Thanks! ~ MJ