I don’t like to toot my own horn but I am an employee who comes up with brilliant ideas when I’m on the job. While I’m marketing, event planning, and laying out ads, my brain is tirelessly scheming, planning and conceptualizing. Fortunately, or unfortunately, not all of my ideas actually pertain to my ‘real’ job and a lot are about cooking and brewing. Don’t tell my boss but these soft pretzels are the fruit of an epiphany that I had between the hours of 9 and 5 while staring at an 8 page marketing analysis spreadsheet.
Surprisingly, the home-made mustard that we made to accompany the pretzels almost stole the show. We brought some of the mustard to Nathan’s family’s house for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit. Nathan’s brother-in-law took one taste, heard that it had both beer and horseradish in it, and instantly dubbed it “Drunken-Horse Mustard.”
This Chardonnay is a nice oak-barrel-aged wine that we got on our Virginia wine tour. It has a pear-like aroma followed by a rich and smooth flavor with notes of vanilla, pineapple and citrus. I felt that this wine was much better when paired with the pretzels than by itself. The pretzels brought out the complexity of the wine while the wine highlighted the saltiness of the pretzel and mellowed the heat of the mustard.
Rating: 8 out of 10
It is my firm belief that Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale and our soft pretzels with mustard were long lost siblings separated at birth and reunited in our kitchen with a tear filled but tasty result. The salty and buttery flavors of the soft pretzels were washed down perfectly with the crisp and strong hop flavors from the beer. Or, if you got a good bite of the horseradish mustard, the pale ale complemented the sharp flavors while quenching the burn.
Homemade Soft pretzels
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
Approximately 4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl or a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. 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 (add more flour if dough is too sticky.) Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for around an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450˚ F. Lightly brush 2 sheet pans with vegetable oil and set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. Combine the egg, water, garlic, and salt in a small bowl. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into 2 foot ropes. Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds. Remove from the water and place on a sheet pan and then brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk, garlic, and salt and water mixture. Bake for 5 minutes and then rotate pan a half turn. Bake pretzels for an additional 6-7 minutes until golden brown in color. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Drunken Horse Mustard
(Adapted from Bon Appetit recipe)
1 cup lager beer, divided
2/3 red wine vinegar
1/3 cup whole mustard seeds
3 tablespoons dry mustard (such as Colman’s)
1/4 cup prepared white horseradish
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, finely ground in spice grinder
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Whisk 1/2 cup beer, vinegar, mustard seeds, and dry mustard to blend in small bowl. Let mixture stand at room temperature 3 hours.
Transfer beer and mustard seed mixture to blender and add remaining 1/2 cup beer, horseradish, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, honey, and ground caraway seeds. Blend until coarse puree forms. Transfer mixture to medium glass bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk often until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes (mixture will be thinner and more sauce-like than store-bought mustard). Transfer mustard to small saucepan and add cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water; whisk over medium-high heat until mustard thickens and boils, about 2 minutes. Transfer mustard to airtight container. Cover and chill until cold.