It’s about time I posted something, right? I know, I know.
I’m still settling in-and by settling in, I am having crazy out-of-towners visit (aka my parents and sister), getting adjusted to the new job, and running all sorts of endless errands (new driver’s license, new plates, emissions testing, realizing I don’t have random things like aluminum foil on hand….so, therefore, last minute trips to grocery stores, and trying to figure out a new exercise schedule on this time that I suddenly have on my hands.) Being a grown-up finally has its perks.
I made these pretzel rolls during one of my first weekends here..as a tribute to my new, awesome city. Just about every restaurant in my neighborhood has some sort of pretzel-ish appetizer or roll on its menu..with some sort of beer cheese dipping sauce. Considering soft pretzels (with salt) are some of my favorite indulgences on this planet, I didn’t hesitate to try another version of this Milwaukee favorite.
As for the rolls, I froze a whole bunch of them and will simply reheat them in the microwave when a craving hits. (Amount of time depends…usually about 30-45 seconds will do the trick.) I didn’t try reheating the cheese sauce, so if anyone out there does, let me know. (I actually meant to do it and then realized that I had accidentally hidden it behind my milk in the fridge and forgot I had made it.)
Enjoy with a nice cold beer (particularly with something made in Milwaukee.)
Pretzel Rolls with Beer Cheese Sauce
Servings: about 10-12 large pretzel rolls and approximately 2 cups of cheese sauce (more than enough)
For the pretzels:
1 cup warm water
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
2 and 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on top of the pretzels
6 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
For the beer cheese sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups beer (I used an IPA. Use whatever kind you have on hand.)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2-3 cups cheddar cheese, grated (I used a sharp cheddar. You may not use all of this. I found that the original recipe was too runny for my tastes, so I added cheese and tasted as I went.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. For the pretzels: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the warm water and the yeast. Let sit until bubbling, about five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, coat a large mixing bowl with a thin layer of vegetable oil and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and one teaspoon of salt.
4. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and, using the dough hook, mix the dough on low until it is just combined.
5. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and knead until elastic and smooth, about 8 minutes or so.
6. Roll the dough into a ball and lightly roll the dough in the pre-oiled bowl to completely coat. Cover with a light cloth and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, coat the paper with vegetable oil, and set aside.
8. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it on a floured, dry surface just until it becomes smooth.
9. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and form into oblong rolls. Place the rolls on the baking sheet and cut 4 (2-inch) diagonal slashes across the top of each.
10. Cover with a light cloth and let the dough rise again in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 15 to 20 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425°F and bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
12. Once the rolls have risen, stir the baking soda into the boiling water (the water will foam up slightly-so be very careful).
13. Boil two or three rolls for 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the rolls, drain, and place on the baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle well with salt and repeat with the remaining rolls.
14. Once all the rolls are ready, place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
15. For the beer cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
16. Add the chopped onion and bay leaf and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
17. Add a pinch of salt and the flour, stirring to coat the onions completely, and cook, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes.
18. Slowly add the beer to the roux, whisking constantly.
19. Next, slowly add the heavy cream, again, whisking constantly and breaking up any clumps of flour that may have formed.
20. Bring the mixture to a gently simmer, and add the peppercorns, cloves, and nutmeg, and cook, whisking occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
21. Here’s the tricky part: Using a small slotted spoon, remove the peppercorns and bay leaf from the mixture (if you leave a couple of the peppercorns in, it’s ok. Just be sure you know this before you take a big bite of cheese.)
22. Remove the sauce from the heat and slowly whisk in the grated cheese, adjusting the amount of cheese to your desired taste and thickness.