Thursday, January 20, 2011

Proper Pretzels

Back in December, before the holidays dominated our plans, we hunkered down one weekend because the weather was lousy. Little did we know at the time that our winter weather woes were just beginning. Still, we decided to make the best of it since it had been a very long time since we had a whole weekend day with no projects planned or trips to town for errands or entertainment.

As luck would have it, that Sunday our beloved Chicago Bears were scheduled to play a home game. It looked like it would be a snowy, blowy mess at Soldier Field--all the better to enjoy from the comfort of our living room. While we rarely watch football--usually only if the Bears are in or nearly in the Super Bowl--we love the excuse to make fun game-day food. I'd been needing an excuse to break out a new pretzel technique, so in addition to our traditional nachos with all the fixins, we made soft pretzels.

Having attempted pretzels before, I had always been disappointed that the color and texture never quite matched up with the picture I had in my head nor was the flavor exactly what my taste buds remembered. They always came out pale and too dry on the outside. Then the New York Times came to my rescue and I discovered the secret to making good pretzels: lye. Yup, nasty, caustic lye. Turns out, although it's still plenty nasty to work with (don't make this a project for the kids), the lye is rendered harmless in the baking. And food-grade lye is available so you can be sure you're using something that is meant for cooking. Here's the link to the recipe for Bavarian-style Soft Pretzels. To access it, you may have to register (free) for the NY Times website but it's well worth the effort for the access to their treasure trove of recipes.

We were thrilled with the results. Well, with the pretzels anyway. The Bears lost in a big way as they always seem to do when we watch. I apologize to Bears fans everywhere as we plan to watch the team play the Green Bay Packers this Sunday in the playoffs. At least we'll be enjoying some more pretzels. And the Patriots--the team that beat us on that snowy December day--are out of contention, so we'll have that to console us as we ponder whether it would be healthier for us all to forever foreswear watching Da Bears.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! This is one of my hubby's favorites snacks, but mine always fail to compare in appearance. Will give this a try!