- Prep Time 15 minutes
- Cook Time 30 minutes
- Estimated Cost $11.50
- 24 Comments
I'm not interested in diving too deeply into politics here.
Not because I'm shy about them (if you know me in person or follow me on Twitter or Instagram or my personal Facebook page, you know I am extremely forthcoming about my beliefs), but because I'm guessing you're here because you're hoping to briefly think about something other than what's going on in the news. I know I'm here, posting on this blog I have so neglected over the past year (sorry about that, by the way) because I needed a little reprieve too.
Of course, it's not as easy as simply changing the subject. Sure, I could tell you about what's new with me, how married life is going so far, about the books I have coming out this year, and the new season of Young & Hungry. But not only does that feel incredibly tone-deaf and insensitive, it's also not really reflective of how I feel on the inside right now, where I am completely distracted by what's going on in the world.
Lately, I have been granting myself little breaks from worrying about absolutely everything. Cooking, of course, is an excellent stabilizer, and gives me an opportunity to nourish the souls and bodies at my dinner table with wholesome, satisfying food. My recently acquired running habit has become my favorite way to spend an hour not thinking about anything other than putting one step in front of the other and not getting hit by a car. When things get really bad, I'll treat myself to a half-hour episode of Sex and the City, where the worst thing I have to deal with is the utter lie that man-child Big could ever be an acceptable boyfriend for Carrie (don't even get me started on their eventual marriage in the movie versions). And this Sunday, I'll partake, extremely half-heartedly, in America's favorite form of distraction: the Superbowl.
I can't contribute much football spirit to the game, so I'll be doing what I do best: making something good to eat while we watch grown men who make more money than the GNP of small countries beat each other up. More specifically: soft pretzels with decidedly decadent, gooey IPA cheese sauce for dipping. Here's what that looks like.
It starts with my favorite staple: pizza dough.
A bath of simmering water with baking soda helps turn them from plain old dough knots into shiny yellow pretzels when you bake them.
Onto a baking sheet they go, topped with a thick coat of melted butter.
I added some coarse salt, but you're welcome to skip this part if you like.
And into the oven.
While they bake, the cheese and beer sauce comes together.
A lot of sharp cheddar makes it velvety.
After about 30 minutes, the pretzels are ready to eat. I like to keep the sauce warm by serving it in a metal pot.
Dig in. Forget your cares for a few minutes.
Then get back to the very important job of standing up for what you believe in.
- flour Pantry
- 2 pounds store-bought or homemade pizza dough $1.50
- tablespoon baking soda Pantry
- 2 tablespoons large-grain salt, like sea salt or coarse kosher salt Pantry
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 1/4 cup milk $1.50 for a pint
- 1/2 cup IPA $2.50 for a 12-ounce can or bottle
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese $3.50
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown or dijon mustard optional
- regular salt, to taste Pantry
- ground black pepper, to taste Pantry
Recipe Serves 8-10
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper or a silpat) 1 large or 2 medium baking sheets.
- Set a large pot of water on the stove and whisk in the baking soda. Bring water to a light boil.
- On a lightly floured surface, oll the dough out into 20 10-inch ropes and fold each rope into a pretzel shape (or other desired shape).
- Drop each piece of dough into the water, boil for 10-15 seconds each, until they float, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet(s).
- Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops of the pretzels with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Sprinkle with the coarse salt.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown.
- While the pretzels bake, make the cheese sauce. Place the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium pot on the stove over medium heat.
- Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk until a sticky dough forms.
- Add the milk and beer, continuing to whisk until a smooth and creamy sauce forms.
- Stir in the cheese, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Add the mustard, if using, plus the salt and pepper to taste and whisk until incorporated.
- Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- To serve, transfer the finished, warm pretzels to a serving plate and serve with the hot cheese sauce (I like to serve it in a cute metal pot, to keep it hot), for dipping.