A post on Serious Eats about Totino’s pizza rolls–which I devoured as a child but loathe as an adult–led to the burning question of whether it’s possible to make a less artificial version at home.
Burning questions imply disco infernos… well, in my defense of current hippity hoppity CHR hits, I’d argued that disco was worse. But I recall very little of disco other than an occasional random exclamation of “do the hustle!” Ignorance not being precisely bliss, I checked out Disco Savvy’s list of the best disco songs of all time to see what cream rose to the top. Here I learned four things. First: Barry Manilow, who is roughly my parents’ age, can still do the hustle (in a red velvet sequined blazer, no less):
Manilow is having such a good time that he is weirdly compelling. In order to amuse ourselves to the same degree, we need some meat. My best guess is that what I took out of the freezer is ground pork. I’m going with a meat filling because I’m nervous about putting the greasiness of pepperoni inside a wrapper.
While I was dabbling meat around the pan with lots of Italian seasoning, Wikipedia sidled up, got slinky, and murmured “no lead guitar.” Indeed. The syncopated 4/4 disco groove relies on bass, synths, and hi-hat cymbals (my very favorite organ stop, for the hissing noise!). It’s also not terribly drum-oriented, and the combination of light guitars and light drums may be why disco sounds so slithery and oily to me.
Spoon some pasta sauce over the meat. Do not use the photos as a guide: next time, I would go with a much drier filling, using the pasta sauce only to moisten the meat.
Add cheese (I used shredded Italian mix) and whatever non-meat flavoring seems good. I used kalamata olives. The rolls will hold very little filling, so don’t go hog-wild with variety of toppings.
Discovery two: disco is still among us right now.
Although the song is a remix, the band, Grum, is current (listen, if you care to be sidetracked). Should the lyrics from the video seem moderately inane… by disco standards, this is Proust. Discovery three: disco is rife with “omigawd, I don’t think about anything but you and have no existence without you and you are the most perfect being ever and your smile lights up the night sky” lyrics that the soppiest balladeers would blush to commit. For some reason, repeating these lines while making that nice hi-hat phsh! noise is supposed to redeem them.
Take some potsticker wrappers and put them on greased foil on a baking sheet. Spoon filling into the wrappers. Be surprised and mildly dismayed at how little filling is needed. Wet a finger, slide it around the edge of the wrapper to moisten, fold the wrapper, and press it to stick together. Somehow, mentioning this in the context of slithering 1970s-style music makes it sound dirty, doesn’t it?
Keep doing this until you run out of filling, space on the pan, or patience, whichever comes first. I made 12 rolls. The sauciness of the filling makes them look like sanguinary little beasts, more after cooking than before. They want 5 minutes in a 400-degree oven to crisp the edges. My thought is that a drier filling would have led to a crisper overall roll.
We could pretend I’m about to eat a salad with this, but that would be a lie. (My only eating six in one sitting is genuine.) These rolls are chewier than I’d like, but they taste sufficiently pizza-ish that it’s worth trying to perfect the recipe some other time.
As for the fourth discovery… it turns out that someone I think of as more reggae/funk, and whose music I ordinarily like a lot, also committed disco. This one manages some clever word play.