I love stuffed bread. It's one of my things to both make and eat. I take a pizza dough, either homemade or store bought and fill it with whatever I'm craving that day. We're talking shrimp parmesan stuffed bread to fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and sauteed chicken with pesto sauce. This is something you can have fun with and be creative.
On this particular day I had taken ground turkey out and couldn't decide what to make with it, I had a pizza dough already made and ready to go so I decided it was a stuffed bread kind of day. I paired the ground meat with sauteed mushrooms, pancetta and shredded mozzarella and then decided to top it all off with some homemade bechamel sauce. For those of you not familiar with bechamel (pronounced besh-a-mel) sauce, it is a white sauce that at in it's most basic form is milk, butter, flour and salt. My grandmother, who is from Northern Italy spices her bechamel sauce up with lots of grated parmesan cheese.
This recipe also includes instructions on braiding bread. It's a very simple process that looks harder than it actually is and really goes a long way as far as impressing guests!
I'm also throwing in a little sidebar here to apologize about if some of the photos appear slightly grainy. My DSLR is in for repair and I am going to have to rely on my point and shoot for the next couple of weeks.
Ground Turkey, Mushroom, Pancetta & Bechamel Stuffed Bread
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes I Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 package sliced white button mushrooms
- 1 ounce pancetta diced
- 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
- bechamel sauce (recipe below)
- 1 lb pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 water
- 4 tbs grated cheese (any type)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chicken bullion
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
This is a multi-tasking recipe but it's not a hard one. Heat up a little oil in a large skillet or frying pan (I use a Circulon deep skillet). When the oil is heated up add in the chopped meat and start to brown the meat. When the meat is about 3/4 of the way cooked add in the mushrooms, pancetta and 1 tablespoon of butter. If the meat has emitted too much liquid at this point you can drain it prior to adding the mushrooms and pancetta.
While the meat mixture is cooking, start making the bechamel. To start the sauce melt the butter in a saucepan, when it is melted add the flour and whisk vigorously. You want to end up with a thick, almost clumpy mixture. Add the milk and whisk again to incorporate fully and break up all of the clumps, add the water and the rest of the ingredients and let the sauce cook down. You can add more salt or milk if it you feel it is not salty enough or vice versa. The end result you want is a thick, creamy sauce. It will take a few minutes for the sauce to thicken, if you need you can add a little flour 1 tablespoon at a time to thicken but keep in mind you will need to add more cheese or salt so the sauce wont taste like straight flour. If you happen to have Wondra on hand you can add that.
Wondra is a great tool to have in the kitchen. It is a very fine powder that can be added to just about any cream or wine based sauce to thicken it up. Wondra is great because it is completely flavorless and really saves you on having to constantly fix your sauce everytime you add more flour. It's cheap and can be found at most supermarkets.
When the meat and mushrooms are fully cooked and the bechamel sauce is ready it is time to assemble your bread. First you must flatten the dough in a baking pan as though you were making a pizza. Then I start by putting about 1/2 of the sauce down the center of dough and top it the rest of the ingredients.
I then top it with the rest of the sauce and the shredded cheese.
Now comes the fun part.....
Like I said previously, braiding bread it extremely easy but looks complicated. Using a knife cut approximately 2 inch slices that run from the edge of the dough to where the filling sits. Do this on both sides making sure you have an even amount of cuts on each side of the dough.
Starting on one side pull the dough over the filling and tuck it under on the opposite side. Then repeat the same maneuver, pulling the dough slightly shifted over to the side. Repeat this over and over until you have braided the entire loaf. If you feel like the pieces you are braiding with are not covering enough of the filling you can stretch them slightly as you are pulling them over the top to braid them.
Your end result with look like this.
Pop the bread in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and how dark you want the bread to be. I like mine to be golden brown with a little bit of a doughy center which took about 17 minutes to cook.