Pretzel Dogs

When I was a kid, I only ate hot dogs one of two ways: nearly burnt to a crisp on the grill, or wrapped in crescent rolls and baked in the oven. The former typically happened during the summer, while the latter was almost always a fall and winter treat. My mom would kick the crescent-wrapped dogs up a notch by slicing the hot dogs down the middle and stuffing a half-slice of American cheese in the middle. As far as my 8-year-old palate was concerned, that was just about as gourmet as you could get. That was my favorite way to eat hot dogs for years and years… until I discovered pretzel dogs. I have been a soft pretzel junkie for what seems like forever, so imagine the shock and awe when I discovered hot dogs wrapped in soft pretzel dough. I don’t eat hot dogs very often, but a few times a year, I’ll have one either straight from the grill, black and charred, or wrapped in a buttery soft pretzel, which is usually accompanied by copious amounts of outlet shopping. For some reason, it never occurred to me to make them at home. Until now. Which is definitely cause for celebration.

I’ve been making homemade soft pretzels for nearly as long as I’ve had this blog and I’ve shared a couple of recipes with you in the past. This one, however, has been my staple for the last nearly three years. I can’t believe in all that time I haven’t gotten it out to you! To make the pretzel dogs, I used this basic recipe and instead of shaping the dough into pretzels (which you could also totally do), I wrapped it around hot dogs. It’s so easy, and if you’ve been intimidated by yeast recipes before, this would be a perfect one to start with. The dough is easy to mix together, very forgiving, and only requires one quick rise of less than an hour.

Whether you want to get in some hot dog-eating while it’s still summer, or you’re on the hunt for game day food for the upcoming fall season, these are definite musts for your menu. You could cut the hot dogs in half for smaller portions, or even use lil’ smokies for bite-size versions. Serve them up with ketchup, your favorite mustard and an ice-cold beer. Perfect for summer, perfect for watching the game, perfect for shopping… perfect anytime!

One year ago: My 10 Favorite Recipes from Summer 2011
Four years ago: Cheddar Ale Spread

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Pretzel Dogs

Ingredients:

1½ cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

4½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Kosher salt, for sprinkling


Directions:

1. Combine the water, 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.


2. 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 and place it in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.


3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.


4. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart pot.


5. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope that's about 24-inches long. Starting at one end, wrap the dough around the hot dog, pinching each end together so that it's sealed. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan and repeat with the remaining dough and hot dogs.


6. Place the pretzel dogs into the boiling water two at a time and boil for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat slotted spatula. Return the boiled pretzel dogs to the half sheet pan, brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the coarse kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


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(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)


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