Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mama Ozzy's Chicken 'n' Waffles with Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear



Earlier this week, my daughter Emma sent me a text message at 11:00pm that read: I am craving chicken and waffles.  I had to laugh.  Since Emma lives in southern Virginia and is a two hour drive away, there's not much I could do to remedy her craving, but I completely understood it.  Chicken and Waffles is very crave-able, and even though it is a Southern tradition, it is still a little difficult to find restaurants who serve it.

I am not sure where the tradition began, some say in Georgia, others credit late night diners in Harlem.  I do know this, while it may sound strange at first, the combination of fried chicken and waffles with syrup makes for some top drawer comfort food.

We are lucky here in Durham, NC because we have a restaurant dedicated to this comfort food, Dames Chicken and Waffles.  There is almost always a line at Dames and for good reason.  At Dames they serve something called a schmear with their waffles.  A schmear is basically a compound butter flavored with jam or pralines.  While it may sound fancy, it is incredibly easy to prepare.  As the compound butter melts on your hot waffle it bathes everything with its flavor.  YUM.

So anyway, since Emma is in town for a long weekend, I decided to whip up a batch of Chicken and Waffles complete with a homemade schmear.  I like to serve the dish with some hot sauce on the side.  The spicy acidity of the hot sauce is the perfect counter to the rich buttery sweet waffles.



Mama Ozzy's Chicken 'n' Waffles with Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear
serves 6-8

Spread a hot waffle with a generous amount of the schmear, top with maple syrup and a piece of chicken.  Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

For the Chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 quarts water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp dried Thyme
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

Peanut oil for frying

In a large plastic container, combine the water, salt and molasses and stir until dissolved.  Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat deep fryer to 375 F.

In a large bowl combine the remaining  dry ingredients and whisk to combine.  remove chicken from the brine and place directly in the seasoned flour, one piece at a time, turning to completely coat.  Allow dredged chicken pieces to rest on wax paper for 15 minutes before frying (this helps form the coating).

Deep fry the chicken 3 pieces at a time until crisp and golden brown (about 5 minutes).  Place on a paper towel-lined tray and keep warm in a 200F oven while you make the waffles.




Waffles
2 cups self rising flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
6 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine self rising flour and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they are just forming peaks, but still liquid.

In a third bowl combine egg yolks, milk, butter and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.  Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Cook on a lightly greased waffle iron.

Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup Jalapeno Cranberry Jelly

Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth.
A schmear can be made with any kind of jam you prefer.  I happened to have Mama Ozzy's Jalapeno Cranberry Jelly on hand so I used that, but peach preserves, or strawberry jam would be equally delicious.  Get creative!



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

King Cake



Happy Fat Tuesday! Today marks the last day of the Carnival season (which begins on Twelfth Night [January 6th; epiphany]) and continues to the beginning of lent.  In New Orleans the last day of Mardis Gras is traditionally celebrated with an obscenely rich pastry known as King Cake.  Even if you aren't in New Orleans, you can still celebrate the season by making your own.

King Cake is more of a sweet yeast bread than a cake.  In fact the yeast dough is really a rich brioche dough scented with citrus peel, nutmeg and cinnamon.  King cakes are sometimes filled and sometimes not, depending on what you prefer.  Fillings range from sweetened cream cheese to fruit pie filling to pralined pecans.  The entire cake is traditionally glazed and decorated with sugar tinted in the traditional mardi gras colors: green (faith), gold (power) and purple (justice).

The recipe I have always used comes from renowned New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse.  I think it is probably the perfect King cake.  It is moist and airy and buttery and is enrobed in a citrus glaze.  I like to add a praline filling to my variation of Emeril's excellent cake.



I know in some circles it is absolute sacrilege to make brioche dough any other way but by hand, but I have always used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer  fitted with the dough hook to perform the task with wonderful results. I'm such a renegade...

This makes a BIG cake.  I usually prepare it the day before Fat Tuesday and bring it in to work to feed my grateful hungry colleagues because I think there is nothing like seeding a little positive karma into the work environment before we enter 40 days of self-deprivation and pennance!

King Cake

1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
4-5 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and very soft 2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp water

Praline filling (recipe follows)
Citrus Glaze (recipe follows)
green, gold and purple tinted sugar

In the work bowl of a stand mixer dissolve 2 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over water and allow to proof for 10 minutes until foamy.

Add 3-4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, nutmeg, salt, orange zest, milk and egg yolks to the bowl.  Using the dough hook, mix everything together on low speed until a smooth and sticky dough is formed (about 7-8 minutes).

With the machine running, add the softened butter, 1 Tbsp at a time slowly and gently incorporating the butter into the dough.  Do not increase the speed of the mixer as this will generate too much heat and will melt the butter.  Melted butter = Disaster.  Be patient.

Once the butter in incorporated you will have a smooth and extremely sticky dough that is lightly glossy.  Sprinkle 1 cup additional flour onto a work surface and turn out the dough onto the surface.  Knead dough by hand, incorporating the additional flour into the dough until it is much less sticky, and very smooth.

Place the doughinto a large, well-buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise for 2 hours until doubled in bulk.

Ounch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Gently roll the dough into a 16 x 20 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle ground cinnamon over the dough and spread evenly with your hands.

Along one long side of the dough, about an inch from the edge, spoon the praline filling. Roll the dough up, jelly-roll style, encasing the praline filling.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment, from the dough into a large ring, gently pinching together the two ends.  Cover with a dry kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1-2 hurs until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Combine egg yolk and water for egg glaze and brush onto dough.  Bake for 30 minutes until a deep mahogany color. 


Brushed with egg glaze and ready for the oven...

...and fresh from the oven... let this cool for one hour before glazing!

Using parchment paper, pull cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before glazing and decorating.

Praline Filling

1 cup chopped pecans
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine everythng in a bowl and mix well.

Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 Tbsp water

Combine everything in a medium sized bowl.  Spread over cooled cake.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine's Day Menu 2013



I can't believe the week ahead of us.  Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, and Thursday is Valentine's Day!  On top of all that both Doug and I have to work all week which leaves little time for cooking or going out for Valentine's Day.

This got me thinking that most people probably have to work all week and are wondering what to do for Valentine's Day?  Making reservations is a nightmare since the restaurants will be crowded and the staff trying to hurry the diners along to make room for the next seating.  Not romantic.

I find that the most romantic thing to do is to get into the kitchen and cook together with your sweetie.  And if you are as busy as we are, a couple really great recipes that take very little time would really help.

So Mama Ozzy to the rescue with a relatively quick and luxurious northern Italian-inspired meal.  We made this dinner on Friday night (poor Doug never gets to have Valentine's day on Feb 14th because I am testing recipes) and invited  all the girls (Heidi, Emma, Rachel and Mary) over to celebrate with us.  It came together very quickly and it was all fantastic.

I hope this light and delicious menu inspires you to cook up some love with your sweetie(s) this Valentine's Day!

Cocktail:  Kir Royale (Asti Spumante with a splash of Creme de Cassis)


Appetizer: Miniature Potato and Taleggio Cheese Pizzas with Rosemary Garlic Oil


Entree:  Orecchite with Pistachios, Asparagus and Prosciutto


Dessert:  Torta Gianduja

Torta Gianduja (Flourless Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts and Orange Peel)



Every good meal needs a showstopper for dessert, and this is particularly true for valentine's day.  That's where this cake fits the bill perfectly.  And since there is no icing or filling required, it is a real time-saver.

Torta Gianduja (john-do-yah) is a classic Italian cake.  It is light and airy, and moist and crunchy and fragrant with orange peel.  This cake needs no icing besides a light dusting of powdered sugar.  It can be served warm, room temperature or chilled with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a good cup of coffee or espresso.

This cake takes about 2 hours to prepare, from start to finish, but can easily be made ahead of time if you are in a hurry.

Torta Gianduja (Flourless Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts and Orange Peel)
serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (filberts)
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 Tbsp Frangelico
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 8-inch spring from pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.

Place Hazelnuts in a pie pan and toast at 350 F for 20 minutes until toasted and fragrant.  Cool.  Place toasted hazelnuts, 1/2 cup at a time, between 2 sheets of paper toweling and gently rub between your hands to remove papery hulls.  Grind Hazelnuts finely in a food processor.

In a large glass bowl, combine butter and chocolate, and microwave at 30 second increments stirring in between heating, until melted and smooth.  Add orange zest and Frangelico to chocolate and stir until well-blended.

In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and beat until very light and fluffy.  Fold into chocolate mixture.

In yet another bowl, whip egg whites just until soft peaks form.  Fold into chocolate mixture in thirds.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 40-50 minutes until top is crusted and a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering to it.

Cool for one hour before removing from pan and placing on a serving platter.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.


Orecchiete with Pistachios, Asparagus and Prosciutto



This dish is just plain delicious.  It is simple yet sophisticated, rustic yet elegant, impressive, yet easy to make.  The Pistachios add a wonderful sweet flavor and crunch to the dish and pair beautifully with the blanched asparagus.  Finished with wisps of chopped prosciutto and a dusting of parmesan, this dish is a party in your mouth where all the fun people came!  Best of all the cup-shaped orecchiete pasta (Or-eh-kyeh-tee; little ears) cradles all the pesto-like sauce in every bite.

If you can't find orecchiete, Farfalle (butterflies) would be a good substitute.

Orecchiete with Pistachios, Asparagus and Prosciutto
serves 6-8

1 lb Asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 lb dried orecchiete pasta
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
2 oz. thinly slices prosciutto, chopped
4 scallions, choped
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Plunge the asparagus into the boiling water and cook just until the water begins to return to a boil.  Immediately remove the asparagus and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Dry asparagus briefly on paper toweling and cut into 1-inch lengths.

Return water ro a boil, and add orecchiete pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, chop Pistachios in a food processor.  Transfer chopped nuts to a large serving bowl.  

Combine Olive oil, garlic and rosemary in food processor and chop until emulsified and well-blended.  Add to Pistachios in serving bowl.

When Pasta is finished cooking, drain (reserving one cup of the cooking water) and immediately add pasta to serving bowl with Pistachio "pesto".  Toss to combine.  Add Asparagus, prosciutto and chopped scallions and toss well.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the reserved pasta cooking water to thin the dish and make a light sauce.  Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.


Miniature Potato and Taleggio Cheese Pizzas with Rosemary Garlic Oil


These miniature pizzas are one of my favorite go-to recipes when I want a fast but impressive appetizer.  They literally come together in a matter of minutes and always seem much more impressive than they really are. In my book, that is called perfect.

I make them with a variety of toppings, but the crust is always the same.  Flaky biscuits from a tube.  Nobody can ever guess what the crust is, they just know it is delicious.  This frees the cook up from hours of preparation making and dealing with a yeast dough and allows you to spend your effort exploring delicious pizza topping combinations.

I have noticed that right now Potato Pizza with Taleggio cheese is a very trendy offering at some of Durham's more hipster eateries and thought it would be the perfect thing to start off a valentine's day menu. Taleggio cheese is a soft, tangy and pungent, earthy flavored cow's milk cheese from northern Italy that is completely transformed in the oven. You can find it at Whole Foods or other higher-end grocery stores.  It's earthiness pairs well with thinly slice potatoes and garlic and rosemary.  It is the perfect light and comforting way to start off any great meal!

Miniature Potato and Taleggio Cheese Pizzas with Rosemary Garlic Oil
makes 10

1 tube flaky biscuits in a tube
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1/2 lb taleggio cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 large red potato sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices (a mandolin is perfect for this job)
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a small food processor, combine olive oil, garlic and rosemary and process until well-emulsified.

On a baking sheet, flatten each biscuit to a 4-inch round.  Brush with rosemary garlic oil.  Top with 6-7 cubes of taleggio.  Then top with three, slightly overlapping slices of potato.  Brush potatoes with rosemary garlic oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and parmesan.

Bake 15 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is melted.  Serve Hot.




Saturday, February 2, 2013

Asian Shrimp Burgers with Spicy "Kim Chee" Slaw on Steamed Bao Buns




I have been dreaming of making this recipe for a very long time and when I finally got around to making it I was really excited.  I love shrimp burgers, especially when they are seasoned with Asian spices.  YUM.

I serve these on a steamed Asian bun that is a lot like the pork bbq-stuffed bao buns you often see on the dim sum cart. In fact the dough for these buns is exactly the one I use to make bao dumplings and it is largely based on a recipe from the late great Barbara Tropp (chef/owner of the famed and greatly missed China Moon Cafe on Post Street in San Francisco).  They are ethereally light and chewy and fragrant with sesame oil.  In fact the shrimp burger on these buns tastes a lot like a good shrimp bao!

Steaming the buns is really easy if you invest in a two-tiered chinese bamboo steamer which you can pick up at any Asian market for about $20.



And then just to mix things up a bit, I thought I would create a quick and easy cole slaw with all the flavors of  Kim Chee. I used a recipe from Tyler Florence and the result was perfect for these sandwiches!  If you aren't familiar with kim chee, it is spicy fermented cabbage, not unlike sauerkraut, but much tastier.  Kim chee is the national dish of Korea and is made with raw oysters and korean chili paste.  It can take weeks to months to prepare as it slowly ferments in the back of your refrigerator.  Clearly I didn't have time for that, but this is a close approximation to kim chee and works perfectly on this sandwich.  It is spicy and tangy and slightly crunchy and delicious.

If you are making this for dinner, its best to start the "kim chee" slaw first thing in the morning (or even the night before) since it needs time to ripen.  While the cabbage is sweating in the kosher salt, make the buns.  Make the shrimp burgers last because they are the quickest to prepare and should be served hot.

Asian Shrimp Burgers with Spicy "Kim Chee" Slaw on Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12

Shrimp Burgers
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
3 green onions
1 egg white
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup basil leaves (preferably Thai basil)
1/2 tsp salt
2 lbs shelled and deveined uncooked shrimp
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 red bell pepper finely diced

Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha chili paste
Steamed Bao Buns
"Kim Chee" slaw

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade combine garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, green onions, egg white, sugar, say sauce, sesame oil, basil leaves and salt.  Process until very smooth.

Add shrimp and pulse 3-4 times until shrimp is coarsely chopped.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in panko and red pepper until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to use. Mixture will be somewhat loose.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Using a round cookie cutter or a tuna can with both ends removed, form 1/2-inch thick shrimp patties in the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes before flipping.  Patties are finished when they are firm to the touch and lightly browned.

Shrimp burgers are done when opaque and firm and lightly browned.

Slice a Bao bun in half with a serrated knife. Spread the bottom of the bun with Hoisin sauce.  Place a shrimp patty on top of the Hoisin, and top with "kim chee" slaw.  Serve immediately with extra Sriracha.

YUM.  Very light and fresh and decidedly Asian Shrimp Burgers!

"Kim Chee" slaw
makes about 4 cups

1 large head Napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1-inch hunk of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Sriracha chili paste
2 green onions thinly sliced

Cut the Nappa cabbage in half lengthwise and remove the tough base and any really thick leaf stalks.  Cut the cabbage into 1/2'-inch thick strips.  Place in a large colander and add /2 cup kosher salt and toss.  Allow to sweat in the sink for about 2 hours.

Rinse the cabbage in 2-3 washes of cold water to remove the salt.  Dry gently on a kitchen towel.  In a large bowl combine garlic, ginger, vinegar sugar and Sriracha. Add the cabbage and mix well.  Pack the cabbage tightly into a plastic container with a lid.  Refrigerate 3 hours before serving.

Spicy and tangy "kim chee" slaw!

Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 package dried instant yeast
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 1/2 cups flour (20 oz.)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp water

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm water, sugar and salt; stir to dissolve.  Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for 15 minutes until foamy.

Add sesame oil and flour and mix with the dough hook attachment until a smooth, but sticky dough forms (about 7 minutes).

Transfer dough to a bowl that has been oiled with sesame oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft free warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  With your fist punch down the dough until it is very flat.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk again (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down a second time.  In a small bowl, combine 2 tsp water and 2 tsp baking powder.  Add to bread dough and mix in with your hands.  Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and form each piece into a smooth round ball.  Place balls of dough on individual pieces of wax paper.  Cover with a dry clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Place dough balls on wax paper squares and let rise 30 minutes

Place buns in a bamboo steamer over a skillet of boiling water and steam for 14 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.

Bao buns arranged in the steamer and ready to steam for 14 minutes 

Steaming away over a skillet of boiling water... 

Ta Da!  Freshly steamed piping hot Bao Buns!

Alternatively, the buns can be steamed and cooled completely, then stored for a day in an airtight container.  Simply re-steam for 3-5 minutes to refresh!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Beer-Glazed Bratwurst Patties on Pretzel Buns



Happy February!

The Superbowl is only 2 days away, do you know what you are making?  Even if you don't really watch the Superbowl (like me) it is almost un-American to not celebrate with some decadent pub food.  I usually make my Buffalo chicken wings and a host of other salty snacks that go down well with beer. So this year I wanted to add something new to my pub food repertoire and came up with these tasty little beauties.

I love the combination of beer and bratwurst and find it goes terrifically with a soft home made pretzel.  And that is how this sandwich was born.  WOW.  They are delicious.  You can make your own bratwurst like I did, but if you are pressed for time Johnsonville sells bratwurst patties.  If you can't find those, try removing the casings from some bratwurst and shaping them into patties. Easy.  But I feel I do need to tell you that making your own bratwurst patties is ridiculously easy and the taste is amazing.  You just need to make sure you leave enough time for the bratwurst seasonings to marry before grilling the patties (about 3 hours).

The Pretzel buns however are something you need to make yourself.  They are insanely delicious.  The original recipe is from my favorite TV food personality, Alton Brown, but I have modified it to make buns instead of pretzels.  The result is a soft and chewy dense bun that tastes like the most delicious hot pretzel ever.  When you top it with spicy mustard, a homemade bratwurst patty that has been glazed with a sticky beer sauce and caramelized onions, and some sliced pickles, you have the ultimate pub fare!  YUM

I like to serve these with cold beer and mustard potato salad with lots and lots of napkins.  I hope the Baltimore Ravens will win the game this year, but with food like this, it doesn't really matter, I will go to bed happy regardless of the outcome of the game!

Beer-Glazed Bratwurst Patties on Pretzel Buns
makes 8

Home-made Bratwurst Patties
2 lbs ground pork
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1  tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp celery seed
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp ground ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well with your hands, making sure that the spices are evenly distributed.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let flavors marry (the longer this sits, the better the flavors develop).

While the bratwurst is chillin' in the refrigerator, make the Pretzel Buns.

Pretzel Buns
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp kosher salt
1 package dry instant yeast
4 Tbsp butter, melted
4 1/2 cups (20 oz.) bread flour

10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)
Kosher salt

parchment paper

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the sugar and kosher salt in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and let stand for 10-15 minutes until yeast becomes foamy.

Add butter and flour and mix with the dough hook attachment until the dough is smooth and just cleans the sides of the bowl (about 7-10 minutes).

Place the sticky dough in a lightly oiled clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1- 1 1/2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  In a large pot heat 10 cups water until vigorously boiling.  Add 2/3 cups baking soda (the water will begin to foam and bubble).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide evenly into 8 pieces.  With your hands roll each piece into a rope about 2 feet long.  Gently coil each rope into a bun.

Coils of pretzel dough, ready for the soda water bath...

Drop buns, two at a time into the boiling soda water and cook for 30 seconds before removing with a slotted spoon.  Place boiled buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush each bun generously with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

The boiled buns will look ugly and lumpy... 

Brushed with eggwash and sprinkled with salt, ready for the oven!

Bake 17-20 minutes until buns are a deep shiny mahogany color.  Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Piping hot pretzel buns fresh from the oven!

Sticky Beer Glaze with Caramelized onions.
2 onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 12 oz. bottles of good beer (I like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and onions over medium high heat until onions begin to caramelize.  Add brown sugar, salt and pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes to caramelize the sugar slightly.  Add beer to skillet and stir to combine.  Cook over medium high heat until the liquid is completely reduced to a thick maple syrup-like consistency. Be careful not to burn  the glaze!  Remove from heat.

Assembly
Form the bratwurst mixture into 8 1/4 pound patties. Grill the bratwurst patties over high heat about 3-4 minutes per side.  Immediately add hot patties to beer and onion glaze and toss to coat.

OMG... YUM!

Slice a pretzel bun in half and spread with spicy mustard and mayonnaise.  Top with a glazed bratwurst patty and some caramelized onions and pickle slices.  Serve hot with lots of napkins...these babies are juicy!