Piggies Wrapped in Pretzel Blankies. Swine in Duvets. Pretzel-Swaddled Piglets. These are just some of the alternate names the author and her girlfriends considered for this recipe when they were brainstorming what to call it. She confesses in her cookbook that she had “a heck of a time” conveying in very few words that these little sidekicks to beer are more than merely pigs in a blanket. How much more? You’re going to have to try these to truly understand, as even her carefully chosen title just doesn’t do these guys justice. Not nearly.–David Leite
LC Pigskin Note
Going for a pigskin theme with your next have-folks-over-to-crowd-in-front-of-the-game-on-the-flat-screen party? As remarkable as this sturdy take on the standard piggy in a blanket recipe is, you’ve simply got to also make this spectacularly brilliant pigskin cheese ball.
Spread the baking soda in an aluminum pie pan or on a small rimmed baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Bake the baking soda for 1 hour. The baking soda will lose weight as it bakes but maintain about the same volume, so you should end up with about 1/4 cup baked baking soda. Let it cool completely. Keep the baked baking soda in an airtight container at room temperature until you’re ready to make the soft pretzels. (If you see more than one batch of pretzels in your future, consider baking a whole box of baking soda in one shot, since it keeps indefinitely. Sift the baked baking soda before using.)
Line two 2-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Turn the dough for the Soft Pretzels onto a lightly floured work surface and firmly press it down to deflate. Cut it into 4 equal portions. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp, clean kitchen towel. Gently pat the piece of dough down with your fingertips and then use a rolling pin to flatten it to an 8-inch square, gently pulling and stretching the dough with your hands to form straight edges and sharp corners. If the dough is sticky, lightly dust the rolling pin and the dough with flour. Brush any excess flour off the bottom and top of the dough. Use a pizza wheel or knife to cut the dough in half through the center, and then cut each half into 6 triangles for a total of 12 triangular strips.
Spread a thin smear of mustard at the base (the widest part) of each triangle. Place a cocktail frank on the mustard and roll it in the dough from the base to the tip, gently pressing the tip to seal. Place the pig in pretzel dough on a prepared baking sheet with the point tucked under and cover with a damp towel. Repeat with the remaining dough and franks, arranging the pretzels at least 2 inches apart.
Allow the pretzels to rise at warm room temperature until they’ve increased in size by about half, 20 to 30 minutes. (The pretzels can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.)
At least 20 minutes before baking, position 1 rack in the upper third and another rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 500°F (260°C).
Select a large stainless-steel pot and add about 8 cups water. Be sure to choose a pot that’s at least a finger’s length wider than the diameter of the pigs in a blanket and tall enough so that the water comes up no more than 2 inches from the rim. (Avoid other metal surfaces, such as aluminum and copper, and nonstick surfaces, which may react with the baked baking soda.) Add the baked baking soda and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the baking soda dissolves, reduce the heat to medium and maintain a gentle simmer. Use a large skimmer to gently dip the pigs in a blanket, 1 or 2 at a time, in the baked baking soda solution. Leave them in the solution for about 20 seconds, carefully turning them once after 10 seconds. Remove the pigs in a blanket from the liquid, drain, and return them to the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. If the tips come detached, simply reattach them. Repeat with the remaining pigs in a blanket.
Sprinkle the dipped pigs in a blanket with coarse salt or poppy seeds or both, as you desire. Immediately bake the pigs in a blanket until they’re deep mahogany, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom after 5 minutes. Transfer them to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. The pigs in a blanket are best enjoyed warm from the oven or within an hour of being baked. (To store the pigs in a blanket, tightly wrap them in plastic, place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat the pretzels in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 12 to 15 minutes.)
I've made a version of pigs in a blanket many times using puff pastry, and I thought that this would be a cool variation to try. I went with the slow-rise and let the dough rest in the fridge for about 20 hours. I removed the dough about 1 1/2 hours prior to rolling it out to take the chill off the dough. If the dough isn't removed from the fridge prior to rolling, it'll take much longer than the 20 to 30 minutes for the secondary proof. They took 9 minutes to cook in my oven. It's important to keep a close watch on them once they hit the 8-minute mark as they start to brown quickly. I believe that a minute or two longer and mine would have been burnt. These turned out good just as they are, but I think that what would really make them sing would be a dip of some kind. Next time I make them, I'll go with poppy seeds instead of salt as a topping and a nice cheese dip.
OMG. These pretzel-wrapped pigs in a blanket are brilliant! We really did try to just eat a few. Impossible. If you'll be making these for a party, you'll most certainly need to make several batches. Store them in the fridge in airtight containers with wax paper between the layers and, at party time, load several baking sheets and run them through the oven. Trust me, they won't have time to cool before they disappear.