Don’t LI to me

Soft Pretzel-wrapped Cheese Dogs

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These cheese dogs are everything…literally!  That brilliant “everything” mix — popular on bagels but by no means bagel-exclusive — takes these cheese dogs to the next level, soaring far beyond any cheese dog you’ve tasted before.  I guess pigs can fly after all!

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Despite my “Connecticut Yankee” status, I have no loyalty to this year’s Super Bowl.  No offense to the Falcons or the Patriots (wait, maybe some offense to the Pats — I grew up in NY), I’m just more into the food-making aspect of Super Bowl LI than the footballing (balling foot?).

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Though an unfortunate running injury has prevented me from attending this year’s Super Bowl party (I tend to push the limits of “socially acceptable,” but I’m pretty sure that walking around with an ice-pack strapped to my groin crosses the line), I shan’t be thwarted in partaking in this culinary holiday.

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I tend to opt for sweet food offerings for events like this one, but something about the Super Bowl screams “MAN FOOD” to me.  What responds with a more resounding, “I AM MAN FOOD” than hot dogs and soft pretzels?!  Add some cheese and you’ve broken the sound barrier.

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Since my life is basically a quest to top myself (i.e. je me top, to use the French reflexive), I chose to not simply make yet another batch of my soft pretzels.  I opted instead to re-purpose that divine dough and apply it to the age-old fav:  pigs in a blanket.  I’m pretty sure that that they had pigs in a blanket on the hors d’oeuvre table at The Last Supper.

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These dogs aren’t so much “pigs in a blanket,” as “pigs in a coffin.”  Due to their cheesy bedfellow, the dough that swaddles these dogs covers them entirely to minimize cheese leakage during boiling and baking — though a few sprung leaks can add endearing appeal.

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These babies are best on the day they’re made, but you can certainly fridge any leftovers, and reheat them in a toaster oven tomorrow.  Given that it’s just me, my Tom, and Tom Brady for this year’s Super Bowl celebration (and T.B. said he might cramp up if he has any), we’ll certainly have a few leftover, but probably not as many as you’d think…

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Soft Pretzel-wrapped Cheese Dogs

1 batch Honey Brown Butter Soft Pretzel dough*
8 all-beef hot dogs, preferably bun-length, dried on paper towels
4 ounces brick-style Swiss cheese, cut into 8 long strips
~1/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten together
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*Prepare the soft pretzel dough [as directed here] through the “Meanwhile, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, and use a pair of kitchen scissors or a bench scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces” step.  Note:  you may not need to flour the countertop at all if your dough isn’t too sticky.
Preheat oven to 415 degrees farenheit, and bring a large saucepan containing ~6 cups water and the 1/3 cup baking soda to an exuberant boil.  Use a sharp knife to make a slit, lengthwise, down each hot dog, piercing only ~1/3- to 1/2-way through the dog — don’t bisect your dogs.  Stuff a cheese slice into the slit of each hot dog.  Pick up one of the dough eighths, and use your fingers to flatten it out into a rectangle about as long as your hot dog and wide enough to encompass its girth.  Wrap the dough around one of the cheese-stuffed dogs, and gently pinch the seams together, so that no hint of dog peaks out.
Working with one swaddled dog at a time, carefully place it in the boiling baking-soda-water bath, allow to bathe for 15 seconds, flip, and boil an additional 10 seconds.  Use a slotted spatula to remove the boiled dog, allow to drip, then transfer to a wire rack (seam-side down) to fully drip-dry as you repeat with the remaining dogs.  Combine garlic powder, onion flakes, both seeds, and salt in a small bowl, and set aside.  Sprinkle a parchment-lined cookie sheet with cornmeal, and transfer your drip-dried dogs to the baking sheet, allowingat least 1.5″ between dogs.  Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle each with ~1/2 teaspoon of your “everything” spice mix.  Bake 15-18 minutes, until tops are deep golden brown.  Remove from oven, let sit for 2 minutes on hot sheet, then transfer to a clean wire rack to cool at least 10 minutes before eating.  WARNING:  Contents may be hot (and yummy)!

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