Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brat Sliders With Beer Braised Onions on Pretzel Buns

 Well, with the Packers-Giants playoff game coming up, I thought I needed something festive to munch on. I was also craving pretzel buns. They can be hard to find here, so I decided I'd make my own.

The first thing you need is yeast.

Milk and butter are next. But you can't just toss cold milk and butter in. I like to microwave them together for about 30 seconds, then stir, then microwave more if the butter is still cold. In the end, the butter should be melted, or just about, and the milk should be just a little warmer than your body.

When you've achieved perfect milk-and-butter nirvana, pour them in with the yeast.

Brown sugar's the sweetener today.

Salt adds some flavor.

Then you can add the flour. I like to split the flour into halves or thirds, to avoid a floury mess all over the kitchen.

Eventually you'll get a really nice, soft dough.

Turn the dough into a lightly-greased bowl, and set it aside to rise for about half an hour.

After the half hour is up, you can start making little dough balls.

You could roll the dough ball out and make pretzels.

Or you could make them into small balls, for sliders.

Whatever you choose, set them on parchment-lined baking sheets and cover them lightly. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, you can start a pot of water. You'll want it lightly boiling.

Once the water is to a boil, pour in half a cup of baking soda.

The baking soda is what gives your pretzels that nice brown color.

Carefully lift your pretzel dough and place it in the water.

Let the dough boil on one side for 30 seconds. Then flip, and go for another 30.

Remove the dough from the water, trying to drain off some of the water. Then place back onto the parchment-covered sheets.

Once all the dough has been through the water, brush each pretzel with beaten egg.

Then top with your favorite topping. I used poppy seeds for some.

Others got sesame seeds.

Some got a mixture of salt, garlic and onion powder, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds, for an "everything" kind of flavor.

Some just got plain salt. It seems nearly impossible to find pretzel salt. So I used some coarse gray sea salt.

Plain kosher'd be fine, too.

Pop the pretzels in the oven and let them bake for 20-25 minutes until they're a lovely pretzel brown.

Kinda like this.

I forgot to slash the tops of the buns to help steam escape, so they split a little at the top. No biggie.

They'd be great if we were stopping here. But we're not!

My brat sliders are topped with beer braised onions. So, you'll need some thinly sliced onions. And a bit of butter.

Cook the onions down until the onions begin to soften.

A pinch of salt will help the onions caramelize.

So will some sugar.

Pepper's just an all-around good flavor.

And, for some flavor richness. Worcestershire can't be beat.

Now for the beer. Any beer will do. Here's what I used.

You'll need the whole bottle. Minus what you drank before getting to this step.

Cook the onions over medium heat until they're caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated out.

Kind of like this. Then turn the heat down and keep them warm.

Your kitchen will smell like the best French onion soup ever.

Woo-hoo! We're finally to the brat slider part. Buy yourself some fresh brats, and then cut the skins all the way down.

Peel the skins off. We just need the brat filling.

Form the brats into slider-sized patties. I got 5 sliders from 3 brats.

Cook the sliders in a pan or on the grill until they're done to your liking.

Now we can get to the assembly! Split a pretzel bun in half.

Grab some grainy mustard.

Smear half the bun with the mustard.

Stack a brat patty on top.

Then pile on those fabulous onions.

Smoosh the top of the bun on, and you're in business! Your football buddies will be impressed, trust me. ;)

Recipe: Pretzel Buns
2 1/4 tsp. yeast (one package)
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 2/3 c. flour

6 c. water
1/2 c. baking soda

egg, lightly beaten

Measure and pour yeast into large mixing bowl. Heat water, milk, and butter together until butter is melted (or just about), and liquid is just slightly warmer than your body. Add to yeast, and mix.

Add brown sugar and salt; mix until combined.

Add 1 c. of flour. Mix on high for a minute.

Add remaining flour until a soft, stretchy dough is formed. Turn dough into a lightly-greased bowl and cover. Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Shape dough into slider-sized buns. Set buns on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean towel and let rise another 30 minutes.

While the buns are rising, measure 6 cups of water and 1/2 c. of baking soda into a large pot, and bring to a boil.

Gently and carefully move buns into the boiling water a few at a time, top-side-down. Let boil for 20 seconds; flip. Boil for another 20 seconds. Remove buns, drain slightly, and return to the cookie sheet. . Continue until all buns have been through the boiling water.

Brush buns with beaten egg. Slash tops of buns, to allow steam to escape. Bake buns in a preheated 375F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Recipe: Brat Burgers
3 fresh bratwurst
salt and pepper, to taste

Split the brat skins and remove filling. Discard skins. Form brats into slider-sized patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in a pan (or on a grill) until cooked through.

Recipe: Beer-Braised Onions
1 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bottle beer
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire
freshly ground pepper

Saute onion in butter; once onion is softened, add 3/4 of the beer, and all the sugar, salt, Worcestershire, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until beer has been absorbed and the onions are caramelized. Add remaining beer and simmer until ready to use.

Place a brat burger on a pretzel bun. Top with braised onions and mustard. Serve!

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