If there’s one thing for certain here in the south, it’s that the return of football reigns supreme. High school Friday night lights, Saturdays in Tiger Stadium, “homegating” with all your favorite people, and of course….the food that gets your pom poms shaking.
Even though I tried (and failed) to include an entire tailgating chapter into my Picnics, Potlucks & Porch Parties cookbook that did not mean some of my most favorite game day snacks weren’t snuck in there via tailgating “picnics”. For me, there is nothing more exciting during football season than finding ways to elevate a tailgate, and I think we can all agree, it begins with the food.
- 1 (0.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1⅛ teaspoons salt
- 1½ cups warm water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- Cheese Dip:
- 1 bottle beer (12 ounce)
- 3 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, cubed and softened
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Dissolve yeast, brown sugar, and salt in warm water in a large bowl until foamy. Stir in both flours. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in a shallow bowl or pan.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and cut into 12 equal size pieces. Roll each into a thin rope and twist into pretzel shape. Dip each into the baking soda mixture. Transfer to baking sheets, 6 per sheet and 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, stopping to turn the baking sheets halfway through baking. Brush pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- For the cheese dip:
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring beer to a simmer. In a bowl, toss the cheese with flour. Add the cheese mixture to the beer with the remaining ingredients. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the texture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Keep warm until ready to serve.
These Homemade Pretzels may seem complicated, and they do require a bit more preparation but the end result is well worth the time it takes for the dough to rise, and for you to twist the pretzels into your preferred shapes. You’ll want to make these when you’re entertaining at home (homegating as it’s affectionately called), as they are best piping hot straight out the oven.
The more they sit, well, the more they soften and they’re just not as great cold.
Happy Game Day snacking, y’all.