Battilocchio with kale, bacon and buffalo ricotta (pizza pockets)

Bite into a crispy battilocchio (or pizza pocket).
Bite into a crispy battilocchio (or pizza pocket). Photo: David Reist

Battilocchio are deep-fried, filled pizzas, super crispy on the outside, juicy and moist within. They're a popular Italian street food. You will need a high protein flour. Another tip is to use fresh olive oil and don't let the temperature go over 180C otherwise it smokes, gives a bitterness to the dish and may explode your pizza pocket. If you don't feel confident you can just bake these in a hot oven.

Ingredients

For pizza dough

65g water

Pinch of yeast

150g water

2 tsp salt

320g high protein bread flour*

* I like Petra #3 flour - which helps to make the dough pliable enough to encase the filling

For battilocchio filling

olive oil (for deep-frying) plus extra for onion

8 slices dry cured bacon or pancetta

1 small red onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced very fine

3 tbsp pine nuts

1 bunch Italian kale and or baby endive, chopped

200g buffalo ricotta or a good quality, fresh cow's milk ricotta.

basil leaves

salt and pepper

 

Method

To make the dough

First make the sponge from the 65 grams of water and yeast (or if you have a yeast mother just use 130g grams of this and skip to next step). Have the water at 25C, mix in the yeast and flour to form a paste or sponge. Leave this to ferment overnight in a cool place.

In mixer bowl, add water, salt, sponge and flour. Mix on a low speed with bread hook for 10 minutes. Rest for 30 minutes and then knead for another five minutes or so.

Turn out and hand knead until it is firm but still elastic. Cut this dough into eight equal pieces and form each into a tight ball.

Place together in one layer in a sealed vessel and leave to prove for a good eight hours. If it looks like the ferment is moving too fast put the dough in the fridge to tame it.

When ready, dust a clean surface with a little flour and roll each ball out into a thin elongated oval, twice as long as it is wide.

To make battilocchio

In a large pan, add just a little oil and cook the bacon until it is getting crispy, remove and splash in some more oil and lightly fry the onion and garlic, then add the pine nuts so they get just a little colour, add the kale or endive and cook until it all collapses, stirring as you go. Season well and let it cool.

Have the deep fryer set at 175C with fresh, clean olive oil. Place the filling on one side, they should be plump but not too turgid. Each battilocchio gets a smear of ricotta, about a tablespoon, about half a cup of kale mixture, a slice of bacon and a few basil leaves.

Fold the other side over and press the two edges together. Form the crescent into a more oval shape and carefully lower into the hot oil. Just do one at a time and keep them rolling and turning so they cook evenly.

They'll take about five minutes each and are done once they have a pleasing toasted look. Wrap in a napkin to serve.