Culture, Featured

Tailgating with Elspeth: For All Those Who Enjoy a Good Pig Skin, Gather Round

Since its inception, Cosby Sweaters has been about collaborating with you to help step your game up. We like to help you…do you. This desire extends to the kitchen as well. It’s football season and football season is as much about the food and drink as it is about the head first tackles and touchdown celebrations. In order to take you on this quest we welcome our new friend and contributor Elspeth. She’s a girl. And quite frankly we need more of them at Cosby Sweaters. They make the office spell better. 

Enjoy the first installment of “Tailgating with Elspeth” 

Bring me your tired, your poor, your hungry masses, and allow me the great honor of filling your clamoring paws with…

…Pig in a Pretzel. That’s right folks– it’s happened. The day America has waited for, when the perfect carb meets the perfect porker and the marriage of these two flavors slaps you silly with glee. We all know and love the classic pig-in-a-blanket, but let’s face it: the Pillsbury dough boy is so not a fitting image for football-toting, beer-can smashing, machismo-oozing men like yourselves (we can’t forget the machismo-oozing women out there, too!) And that’s how this delectable finger food, this gift from the gods on high has made its way into our hearts and bellies.

 Forget the Crescent rolls– they’re in the past, along with acid wash jeans and mullets. We look towards the future, where there are foods worth fighting for and flavors that will have you itching so intensely for more that you’ll swear you’ve got a case of athlete’s foot.

Enough drooling; let’s get started!

For the dough you will need…
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115˚F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115˚F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

For boiling the pretzels….
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda

1 package Lil’ Smokies (I used low-fat turkey, which was fantastic and fooled the manliest of men in the tasting room)

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t garlic powder
~1/4 cup mustard (I would suggest both honey and dijon)
2 T sour cream
2 T cream cheese

Heat the water in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until up to temp; mix in yeast and 1 t of the brown sugar and let sit for ~5 minutes, until foamy and about x2 the original volume. If using instant yeast, you can say “f-this step”; just mix the yeast in with the flour and move on with your life.

Heat the milk and mix in the rest of the brown sugar. Add this and the yeast/water to 2.5 c flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a cohesive dough ball forms, adding more flour as needed (it will most likely be needed, so don’t be too shy with the flour or else your dough will be too sticky).

Spray a large mixing bowl with oil and place your dough inside. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for 2 hours at LEAST! I am lucky enough to have a floor-vent-heater apparatus, which is pure perfection for dough.

It is very important to leave the dough alone while it rises. Think of it as an adolescent fembot– temperamental and easily prone to fits of despondency, so you’re better off drinking alone in the other room with your memories of simpler times (the beer from Trader Joe’s).

Once it’s risen completely, punch it down and divide it into four parts on a very well floured surface. Roll each piece (they will each be about the size of a large man-fist) into a 4×15″ rectangle. Cut with scissors into strips; the width of each should be just about the same as the length of the lil’ smokies.

Roll the lil’ smokies in the dough, starting on one end and rolling very tightly until it’s as snug as a bug in a rug. Pinch the ends of the dough together and quickly roll it in between your hands, which will give it a consistent shape. You want to encase the piglet in the dough and seal up the edges, so work your magic and make it happen. Lay out the piggies on a baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the water on to boil in a large pot and heat your oven to 400 degrees. You can take this downtime and mix the seasonings together in one bowl, for drizzling on the finished product. Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, and mustards together in a separate container, then melt the butter.

Add the baking soda to the water and keep it at a boil. Add about 1/3 of the pups to the water– it will foam quite a bit (just turn down the heat for a few seconds). Turn them once, wait for them to puff a bit (20-30 seconds) and remove them from the water with a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet.

Once they have all been boiled and puffed, line them up on the sheet and pop them into the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until deliciously golden brown.

Immediately brush them generously with the melted butter and sprinkle the seasoning mixture on top. Don’t be shy with this!!

Once they cool (or not, if you’re anything like me) dunk them into the mustard dip and enjoy. NOM!