Most of my cooking revolves around the question "what goes with booze?" A good, satisfying session in the kitchen, for me, usually involves sipping on some beer or wine, the same beverage that will also accompany dinner. Pretzels and bratwurst are classic beer foods... and they beg to be combined. St. Louis' beloved pretzel shop, Gus's, makes pretzel encased bratwurst that are salty heaven.
After discovering how easy it is to make pretzels at home, I came up with this bite-size version. I am now prepared for all the beer parties (so come one, people, invite me to all the beer parties!) My local grocery store, Schnucks, makes their own smoked bratwurst, which require no cooking and have a nice smoky taste. If you can't find smoked bratwurst, use your favorite bratwurst and cook it how you normally would to use in these.
I read a bunch of cheese sauce recipes to get an idea of how to make the mustard, beer cheddar sauce I was thinking of to go with these. I was curious to find a method that didn't require making a roux to thicken the sauce...you toss the shredded cheese with the flour instead. I was kind of surprised at how well it worked! This was the easiest cheese sauce I've ever made! What a helpful trick! I put in a lot of mustard, because, when pressed, I will choose mustard over cheese as a pretzel dip...sorry cheese wizz-ards. Don't worry, though, this rarebit offers the best of both worlds.
Bratwurst Pretzel Balls with Mustard Rarebit Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package rapid rise yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 stick butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for bowl and baking sheet
2 links of smoked bratwurst (or cooked), cut in half lengthwise then into 36 chunks
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
for the Mustard Rarebit
1 cup brown ale or other malty-flavored bee
2 Tablespoons English mustard (such as Coleman's; wet, not powdered)
1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons flour
Combine the water, brown sugar and 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. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. 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.
Preheat the oven to 450º F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray or brush with oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil in large pot.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 36 equal pieces by cutting in half, then cutting the halves in half and so on. Flatten a piece of dough in your hand and place a chunk of sausage in the middle. Gather up the dough around the sausage and pinch to seal closed, and roll into a ball shape. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough and bratwurst.
Place the pretzel balls into the boiling water, in small batches with a slotted spoon or spider, for 30 seconds.Remove them from the water with the slotted spoon or spider and return to the baking sheet. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and water mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Let Cool at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the mustard Rarebit: Toss the cheese with the flour and set aside. Combine the beer and mustard in a small saucepan and bring to a brisk simmer. Slowly whisk in the cheese and flour until incorporated. Let simmer, stirring very often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with warm pretzel balls.
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Twistin' Sisters... making pretzels with Barbaric Gulp
Beer Bratwurst Mac 'n Cheese
Oktoberfest Bratwurst Pizza
Bratchos 2 Ways
Guest Post: Stacy Cooks with Beer
Beer Fries Poutine with Jalapeno Bacon Gravy
2013: Year of MORE BALLS Posts:
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Pumpkin Risotto Arancini With Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
2012: Year of the Balls recap