Every year I leave Bozeman, Montana, at 4 a.m. and drive through Idaho for a week of steelhead fishing on the Snake River. If I time it just right, I arrive in Kamiah, Idaho, the minute the first pizza pockets come out of the fryer at Harvest Foods. Of all the pizza pockets I've had across North America, these are by far the best.
My annual tradition is the inspiration for this recipe. I use venison hot Italian venison sausage in this rendition, along with a few simple ingredients that include store-bought pizza sauce. If you have time, you should feel free to make your own sauce.
Time to make
1 1/2 hours
1 lb. ground Italian venison sausage
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
14–16 oz. pizza sauce
12 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 egg, whisked
Oil, as needed for frying
2 1⁄2 –3 cups flour
2 1⁄2 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
Also works with
- In a stand-up mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the warm water, yeast, garlic powder, and sugar. Mix ingredients together and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Once the mixture has started to froth, start the mixer on the low setting and gradually add 1 ½ cups of flour. Continue to add the rest of the flour until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky.
- Flour a work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 5-7 minutes on the floured surface. Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and allow it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes to an hour.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling.
Filling and Assembly
- In a large frying pan, brown the mushrooms and Italian sausage over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Season as needed. Pour mixture into a heat-safe bowl to cool. Pile the meat and mushrooms on one side of the bowl and drain off liquid that gathers at the bottom or place in a colander to allow all the liquid to drain off.
- Once the meat and mushrooms have most of the moisture drained and they are cool enough to handle, add the pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese and mix well.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and separate into 1 1⁄2-inch sized balls. Use a rolling pin to roll the balls into a rough rectangular shapes 3-4 inches wide and 6-8 inches tall. The rectangle of dough needs to be very thin, 1 millimeter or less.
- Place a large spoonful of filling on half of the rectangle, making sure to leave at least a half inch from three edges of the rectangle. Before you fold the dough over on itself, lightly brush the egg wash over the edges to seal the filling in the pocket. Push out any air and seal by pressing down the three sides with your fingers. Flatten the dough with a fork around the perimeter of the pizza pocket to create a textured pattern.
- In a large pot, heat 2-3 inches of oil to 325 F. Gently place 2 or 3 pizza pockets in the pot and fry on the one side until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Turn each pizza pocket with metal tongs and fry the other side down for an additional 2 minutes.
- Use metal tongs to gently remove the pizza pockets from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Continue frying in batches.
- Enjoy hot off the plate as they are or dip them in additional pizza sauce or ranch dressing.