There’s something about a sandwich loaded with meat and mustard and cheese on a warm, soft pretzel roll that really gets me going. But I hate when the parts of my mustardy sandwich start sliding around, and then mustard gets all over my shirt, and then I eat my shirt…you know how that goes. So I decided to put all the things I want on a pretzel roll INTO a pretzel roll. That’s right, we’re doing a pretzel inception. I think. Maybe not. I’m not sure. Maybe sneak into my dreams and let me know (but please bring these as a snack to my dream, or you may face a violent death).
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110º to 115ºF)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- 2/3 cups baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 pound bratwurst or other sausage, removed from casing
- 6 ounces beer
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Cheddar, grated
- 1 cup gouda, grated
- Slightly more than 1/2 cup pickles, diced, juice squeezed out
- 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Mix the water, sugar and salt in a bowl, then add the yeast — no need to mix in the yeast, just sort of sprinkle it on top — and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
- Add the flour and butter, mix until everything is incorporated, then knead for about seven minutes, or until dough is totally cohesive. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let proof for an hour in a relatively warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
- Heat a skillet to medium/medium-high heat. Crumble in the bratwurst and cook until golden brown. Once brown, add the beer and bourbon to deglaze, and remove from the heat when the liquid has evaporated. Empty into a mixing bowl, reserving a tablespoon of fat, and set aside to cool.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the fat, then cook onions and garlic until browning and crisping, then add the rest of the beer, reduce the heat to low, and cover loosely with foil. Let that cook until most of the liquid is gone, about 30 minutes, then add that to the mixing bowl with the bratwurst and let cool.
- Once the sausage mix has cooled enough to not melt the cheese, add the pickles, cheese, mustard, hot sauce and salt, and mix well.
- Fill a large deep pan or a stockpot with four inches of water, add the baking soda and bring to a boil.
- Get your dough and divide into 24 relatively even portions (a kitchen scale works well for this).
- Roll each piece of dough into a flat circle about 3 1/2 - 4 inches in diameter.
- Each piece of dough gets 3-4 tablespoons of the mix. Put the mix in the center of the dough, then bring the sides up and pinch together at the top and smooth out the seams. You want it to be a totally sealed and smooth pocket.
- Once you have all your pretzel rolls, drop them in the boiling water 3 to 4 at a time (or however many fit without crowding) for 15 seconds, flip them, and let them go for 15 seconds more (30 seconds total). Pull them out and set them on parchment paper or a cooling rack.
- Score the top of each roll with an X; you actually want to slice all the way through to the stuffing, but don’t make the X so big that it compromises the integrity of the roll.
- Line a large baking sheet with fresh parchment paper and give it a quick spritz of nonstick cooking spray (or oil lightly using a paper towel).
- Place in the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until nice and brown on the outside.
- Serve with beer, mustard and hot sauce.
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