Saturday, August 9, 2014

All Wrapped Up - Pretzel-Wrapped Bratwursts

Yep, this is the perfect football food
It's been a long time since I posted here.  Over a year.  Why?  Because I got in a food funk...making the same things over and over again.  Honestly, there's only so many times I could expect people to read about tortillas and fried rice.  Luckily for my family, I've started to branch out again.  What motivated me? Football!  Nothing screams for good, salty food like football season - things like giant soft pretzels with cheese sauce or bratwursts smothered in spicy mustard. While they're good individually, they're even better combined. 

The only drawback of this as a football food is that they take a couple hours to make.  Nobody has time to make these when football is on!  Luckily, they're just as good re-heated, so you can make them on Saturday and not miss a single Jim Harbaugh tantrum or Ndamukong Suh head stomp.

The main reason these take so long is the pretzel dough, which takes a little over an hour to prepare (mostly rise time)  I used Alton Brown's recipe, which makes eight pretzels, and doubled it, since I had 10 bratwursts. Honestly, it would have been better to just divide the dough into 10 parts, as the ratio of pretzel to bratwurst was a bit high for my taste - I wanted the grease from the brat and the salt of the pretzel in every bite, and it just didn't happen. 

Really, for all I've complained about the time commitment, the KitchenAid did most of the work here.  All I had to do was pour ingredients in and set timers.  KitchenAid Mixers are the world's best inventions.  I will cut anyone who tries to take mine away.

While the dough rose, I cooked the brats, so they had time to cool before I had to touch them.  I was pretty proud of myself for thinking ahead like this, because normally, I'm the chump who's trying to handle lava-hot food without burning herself.  

Also thinking ahead (not because of any marvel that made me suddenly more organized and thoughtful - I was getting hungry!), I remembered to boil the water and pre-heat the stove before the dough was done rising.  Usually, when I make pretzels, I shape them and have to stand around sighing impatiently while I watch water heat up.  Not today!  Today, I was all over that nonsense! 

The top two sides for bratwursts - combined
If you like onions with your bratwursts, now would be the time to start cooking them. I wasn't on top of it enough to think of that.  Probably because I'm not the biggest onion fan, although most people I know are. Slice onions, saute them in butter, add beer, and ignore except for the occasional stir.  If you time it right, they'll finish right when the pretzels do.  If not, say they're done anyway - they'll be cooked enough that nobody will know the difference.  I'd suggest using a light beer, since the IPA I grabbed ended up making the onions a bit too hoppy tasting.

I hadn't really thought out how I was going to cover the bratwursts with the pretzels, just that I wanted to.  I decided to go with an artsy spiral wrap that worked out really well, as long as the ends were sealed.  Some came out looking a little awkward, as I got to the end and realized I had a lot of dough left.  As I said earlier, if I had divided the dough into more pieces, I wouldn't have had this issue.  Live and learn.  

I added some green chiles to a few of them, just to see how they'd turn out.  Freaking awesome, that's how.  I highly suggest adding stuff.  I will make these again with jalapenos.  I also plan on making some with a stripe of mustard down the middle of the dough, and maybe some grilled onions for my husband.  Pretty much anything that would taste good and not fall out (sadly, I don't think cheese would withstand the boiling and baking) should be added here.

Then comes the least fun part - standing over the pot of boiling water in front of a 450 degree oven.  Each pretzel has to be boiled for 30 seconds before getting an egg wash and salt, and then they go in the oven.  Deciding to make these on an 80-degree day was not my smartest move. Except they were delicious, and I had a beer during the boiling, so it wasn't all that bad.  Plus, they came out looking pretty cool, so I felt like a rock star.
I'm not sharing. Make your own.

We only had one left, which I threw in the freezer to see if they freeze well.  If they do, I'll set aside a day to make a triple batch of these just to freeze for an easy game-day meal.

Serve hot with beer-braised onions and spicy brown mustard. Or cheese sauce.  Or both; I won't judge.


Pretzel-Wrapped Bratwursts
1 ½ cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 t kosher salt
1 T yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour (4 ½ cups or so)
2 T melted butter
Vegetable oil
10 bratwursts
20 cups water, divided
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T water
kosher salt or pretzel salt for sprinkling
Green chiles, jalepenos, grilled onions, garlic, mustard

1) Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

2) Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix until well combined.

3) Knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

4) Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

5) While the dough is rising, add the bratwursts to 10 cups of the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the bratwursts from the water and set aside to cool.

6) 10 minutes before the dough is done rising, put the remaining 10 cups of water on the stove to boil and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

7) If making beer-braised onions, start them now (recipe below)

8)Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

9) When the dough is risen, divide it into 10 equal pieces (about 4 ounces each)

10) Pat each piece of dough into a 2”x10” rectangle. Add any additional ingredients in a thin strip down the middle of the dough.

11) Working from one end, wrap a bratwurst in each piece of dough, being careful to seal the ends.

12) Add baking soda to the boiling water (be careful – it will fizz up!)

13) Boil each pretzel-wrapped bratwurst for 30 seconds, then remove from the water with a large spatula or a strainer such as you'd use when deep frying.

14) Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with kosher salt or pretzel salt.

15) Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Serve hot with spicy brown mustard, beer-braised onions, and beer.

Beer-Braised Onions
2 onions
2 T butter
12 oz beer (lighter flavors are better)

1) Slice the onions as thinly as you can.

2) Melt the butter over medium heat

3) Add the onions to the melted butter and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to caramelize

4) Add the beer and reduce heat to medium-low

5) Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is gone, 20-30 minut

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