If you’re like me, and you typically have only one full day off each week, you make the most of that day off. This essentially translates into making ample amounts of food that you neither need nor could possibly eat within the next two to three days, but you do it anyway. For my day off, I crank a ‘yoga station’ on my phone, cover each square inch of open countertop with recently purchased groceries, allow every ounce of sunshine possible into my kitchen, and get to work.
Those are my favorite days.
Now, here’s a fun back story while we’re sharing. I sold my car before we moved to Chicago, and it was perfect: all major destinations were within walking distance, and there was a gigantic grocery store directly across the street from our high-rise. Now that I am in a totally different Midwestern city, I have to bike a few miles to get to anything I really need. It’s different, and very great in its own way, but not as convenient as I had it before :). The cool aspect of said bike ride is that I can take a bike trail the entire way to the closest grocery store. No traffic, minimal pedestrians, and lots of open air.
So, last week it was about forty-five degrees when I hopped on my bike and headed to the grocery store. I think during the prior week it hit 70, but that’s the Midwest for you. Needless to say, I was not overly excited about my decision once I was a about halfway to the store. My tire was low, I’m crazy out of shape, and shit got real. To make matters worse, I’m a gigantic wuss. After over an hour spent riding / shopping / riding back, it was all worth it to dive into these stuffed pretzels.
I took two to work so my co-worker and I could taste test, then Mark and I ate the other two as what we will coin an “appetizer”. Ha. It could become a meal, but its way more fun to eat these and then indulge in something else equally as good, too. That’s why we had buffalo chicken tacos right afterwards (weird combo, I know. But so tasty.)
These pretzels are an adaptation of Half Baked Harvest stuffed pretzels – check that site out! The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are absolutely amazing. I made a few changes with these stuffed pretzels , but I have also made the original and was beyond excited with the results! This was my second go around, and both batches barely lasted long enough for the photos to be shot. Seriously. Try these!
This recipe makes four large stuffed pretzels. I don’t have many mouths to feed, so the less temptation in my household – the better! 🙂
[my additional tips!]:
Actual Prep / cook time: 1 hr 45 minutes
Clean-up difficulty: 5
Overall difficulty to make: 4
Overall satisfaction: 8.5
Price range? This dish is under $5 for two people.
What I would change next time? Nothing at all. It’s cheesy, bacon-y, rich, warm and amazingly soft and wonderful.
For your own version, I recommend:.
- Use whichever cheeses you prefer.
- It’s easy to omit the bacon and make it vegetarian! The flavor is still great.
- These are best served fresh – but be careful, as they are super hot when the come out of the oven!
© 2015 : a flavor journal : by sara alvord
cheesy spinach and bacon stuffed pretzels.
For pretzel dough
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 T light brown sugar
- 1/2 pkg. active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup beer
- 1/2 stick melted butter
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- 2 quarts boiling water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 egg
- sea salt to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1 clove garlic minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
- 1/2 large shallot minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 pint milk I used 2%
- 2 strips bacon crispy and chopped
- 1/4 cup gouda shredded
- 1/4 cup mozzarella shredded
- 2 oz. cream cheese
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp. salt + pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh spinach finely chopped
For pretzel dough
- Add the yeast and light brown sugar to the warm water. Stir gently until mixed well; allow to sit for five minutes.
- Pour yeast mixture into a large bowl and add melted butter, salt, and all-purpose flour. Stir until thickening, then add bread flour. Mix together until all ingredients are fully combined and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but isn't too sticky.
- Knead the dough on a hard and lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, then add it to a bowl that has been lightly greased with the canola oil. Coat the entire surface of the dough with the oil from the bowl, and let it sit in a warm place for one hour while covered with a light kitchen towel.
- Cut two slices of bacon in half; cook in a small sauté pan over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy. Remove bacon and lay onto paper towel to drain.
- In the same sauté pan, turn the heat down to about medium-low and melt butter, then add garlic and shallots and cook for roughly 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat until fragrant and softened. Whisk in the flour until completely smooth, then pour in milk and turn the heat up to medium until the milk simmers.
- Keep whisking, and turn the heat back down to medium-low. Allow this to set for 4-5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until it starts to thicken slightly.
- Add the cream cheese, divided into smaller pieces, and stir until melted. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Grate in gouda and mozzarella cheeses. Stir until all cheese has melted, then add sour cream and stir until melted.
- Add chopped fresh spinach and bacon. Combine completely and place into a plastic container, then into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- As the filling chills, check on the pretzel dough and make sure it has doubled in size. Roll it out onto a floured surface, kneading lightly. Cut the kneaded dough ball into four sections of equal size, and set aside.
- Once the filling has chilled and has a thick, pliable texture, remove it from the freezer. Using one dough ball, roll it out onto a floured surface to make roughly a 13" x 3" shape. Directly in the middle of this dough shape, line the cheesy filling about 1/2" thick from end to end. Pull the dough on the top side over the filling, and bring the bottom side up to meet it. Seal the sides together to create the stuffed pretzels.
- Pinch both ends together to seal, and then pull each end around and then together to form a pretzel shape. Seal the ends onto the bottom of the thicker part of the pretzel to prevent any of the filling from baking out of it.
- In a large saucepan with 2 quarts of boiling water and 1/2 cup of baking soda, drop each pretzel in and boil for 30 seconds. Remove, set on your baking sheet, and brush egg wash over the tops and sides of each pretzel. Sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
- Bake all pretzels together at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot, and enjoy 🙂